School of Science research seminar

Event Name
School of Science research seminar
15 September 2020
10:00 am -

Address (Room): Zoom Meeting ID: 484 163 7742


R Lam 1,2, C Lennard 1, G Kingsland 2, P Johnstone 2, D O’Brien 2, J Fewtrell 2, A Symons 3, L Wythes 4, K Edge 4, Val Spikmans 1 1. School of Science, Western Sydney University, Australia, 2. Fire & Rescue NSW 3. NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, 4. NSW Environment Protection Authority present:

Operational Implementation of Rapid On-site Identification of Hazardous Organics at Fire Scenes

Building and factory fires can pose great risk to human and environmental health due to the release of hazardous compounds in smoke and runoff water. A collaborative response from agencies, including environmental, health, policing and fire and rescue agencies, is required to ensure environmental and human health are protected. Monitoring the release of hazardous compounds at fire scenes is currently performed using time-consuming procedures, with results often not available during the emergency. First responders on scene therefore have limited information at hand to accurately risk assess and manage a fire scene. Recent advances in field-portable equipment can aid in the provision of crucial intelligence at the scene of an incident. Being able to obtain this intelligence in real time is likely to shape the future operations of environmental regulation and enforcement to be more pro-active. This concept was evaluated for fire scenes by implementing a field-portable Gas Chromatograph – Mass Spectrometer (GC-MS) with associated sampling accessories. It was found that the portable GC-MS was able to provide detailed information on the volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds present in air and water runoff samples, with the ability to analyse up to six air samples or four water samples per hour whilst at the scene. This tool could be implemented without significant changes to the operational framework of emergency response agencies. This presentation will discuss the operational implementation of the field-based monitoring techniques, in particular in light of the collaborative effort required by different agencies at a fire scene. Field-based protocols, sample triaging and implementation at real-life fire scenes will be discussed. The latter will be demonstrated with a real-world example of a large-scale fire that was attended as part of the project. This project has been assisted by the New South Wales Government though its Environmental Trust Research grants program.

And Ricky Spencer School of Science, Western Sydney University presents:

Quantifying Our National Capital: Scavengers Regulate River Health, Particularly After Fish Kills

The interaction between built, social, human and natural capital is the basis for sustainability and human wellbeing. Built and human capital (the economy) are embedded within society, which is embedded within the rest of nature. Ecosystem services are the relative contribution of natural capital to human well-being and biodiversity is a crosscutting part of this nexus and its resilience. Biodiversity loss and extinction is emotive but rarely considered in terms of loss of natural capital and impacts on human wellbeing. It is vital that our environment is considered a national asset and the value of the components of the environment need to be quantified. Only then can we truly assess the need for ‘Build Capital’ over ‘Natural Capital’ as human development increases. Freshwater systems are now among the most endangered habitats in the world. More than half of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since 1900, a concern because these places serve as nature’s water treatment facilities—cleaning water of pollutants. Freshwater macroscopic scavengers can occur in huge biomasses and they occupy key positions in freshwater food webs. They provide important ecosystem services that have never previously been quantified, yet many are declining to extinction. Here I quantify the ecological and socio-economic impacts of macroscopic scavengers, like turtles and crayfish, in maintaining water quality in our major river systems. That role underpins critical decisions on how to manage “fish kills” and implement the carp herpes bio-control program to manage invasive European Carp in SE Australia.

For details about School of Science seminars in Parramatta, please contact Dr Patrice Castignolles, (

Patrice Castignolles has invited you to a scheduled Zoom meeting. Personal Devices: JOIN remotely (with audio): (PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android) Zoom Rooms: JOIN the room using the Zoom Room Controller SHARE CONTENT within the Room: Remote participants can also join (audio only) from a dial-in phone line: Dial: +61 2 8015 2088 Meeting ID: 484 163 7742 International numbers available: Or with video, audio & screen sharing from a H.323/SIP room system: Dial: 61262227588 or or H323: 4841637742@ (From Cisco) or H323: 4841637742 (From LifeSize or Polycom) or or Meeting ID: 484 163 7742

Speakers: Val Spikmans, Ricky Spencer

Web page:

Name: Patrice Castignolles

Phone: 0413 021 562

School / Department: School of Science