Editorial Because of other commitments I was regrettably unable to attend the 10th European Meeting of the Society in Scotland last April. In 1983 I organised the first of these meetings in Birmingham, mostly to allow British members an opportunity to attend a SEGH conference at a time when funds for international conference travel were already dwindling. I always hoped the meeting would continue as a annual event and they have. The fact they have testifies to the vigour of environmental geochemistry and health studies in Britain and to the dedication of the active members of SEGH. Dr John
Farmer is to be thanked for his leadership in organising the 10th meeting and for being the guest editor of this double issue. At the meeting all authors were invited to submit manuscripts covering the subject of their presentation. The submitted papers were then peer reviewed as though they were normal volunteer papers and Dr Farmer saw them through the review process. I have pleasure in presenting a snapshot view of the work of environmental geochemists in Britain today. B. E. Davies
Guest Editorial "I am a chemist, but there is nothing I dislike so much as doing chemistry. If you could find any way to avoid it, I would be very glad." Thus spake Harold Urey (1953), the outstanding isotope geochemist who was awarded the 1934 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his discovery of deuterium. How often have we heard this cry echoed down the years, albeit in a slightly different context and by rather less distinguished individuals, some of whom have become a little disaffected with the nature and apparent direction of their subject, not least as taught and practised in some of our traditional seats of learning. How refreshing, therefore, to read the comments of R.J.E Williams (1992), President of the Dalton Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry, in a recent newsletter which exhorted his colleagues "to change their style.., remove themselves from their their present isolation.., return tojtheir brothers and sisters in the fields of analytical, geological and biological chemistries". And how heartening, if a little surprising, to learn that even the Chemistry Committee of the Science and Engineering Research Council, although continuing "to channel its funds through subcommittees based loosely on organic, inorganic and physical divisions", appears to be in the process of rediscovering analytical chemistry (Stevenson, 1993). In education, the growth of courses and degrees in environmental chemistry in recent years (SETAC, 1992) is welcome, not only as a necessary response to students who choose to vote with their feet as well as their brains, but also because it reflects the need for, and trend towards, a more holistic, environmentally aware and socially responsible approach to chemistry and science in g e n e r a l . The S o c i e t y for E n v i r o n m e n t a l Geochemistry and Health is in a good, although clearly not unique, position to foster a multi- and inter-disciplinary approach to study of the environment, and to encourage the participation of even self-styled 'mainstream' chemists in its
activities, including the Annual Meetings held in the USA and in Europe. This special issue of E n v i r o n m e n t a l Geochemistry and Health contains papers presented at the Tenth European Meeting of the Society for Environmental Geochemistry and Health, held at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, from 12-15 April, 1992. The principal theme of the Meeting was "Isotopes in Environmental Geochemistry and Health", reflected here in papers within the sub-themes of "Lead Isotopes in the Environment" and "Radionuclides in the Environment". The coverage is broad, featuring the use of stable (including radiogenic) and both naturally occurring and artificially produced radioactive isotopes in source characterisation and as tracers, as well as the investigation of their behaviour in most spheres of the environment. This volume also contains papers given in the general session on "Trace Elements in the Environment", predominantly in soils and plants. There is emphasis throughout on the contributions made by the application of modern analytical techniques, continuing the impressive technological development which prompted Urey's remark. But now, as then, when it comes to the detailed study and explanation of the world both about us and within us, there is still much for chemists to do. John G. Farmer References
SETAC. 1992. Register of Courses in Environmental Toxicology and Environmental Chemistry in the UK.
Stevenson, R. 1993. Serc chemistry - not dead yet. Chem. Brit., 29, 96-97. Urey, H.C. 1953. Discussion with A.O. Nier. In: Mass Spectrometry in Physics Research, US National Bureau of Standards, Circ.522, p.139. Williams, R.J.P. 1992. Dalton Newsletter No.33, July. Royal Society of Chemistry, UK.