Volfson, I.F., Paul, W., and Pechenkin, I.G., 2010. Geochemical anomalies: Sickness and health. In: Florinsky, I.V. (Ed.), Man and the Geosphere. Nova Science Publishers, New York, pp. 69–113.
Natural geochemical anomalies can both adversely and positively affect human health influencing the balance of trace elements in the organism. It is obvious that content of trace elements in a particular terrain is controlled by a combination of various climatic and landscape characteristics, which, in turn, depend on the geological, mineralogical, and geochemical features of bedrocks, as well as endogenous and exogenous geological processes. Endemic diseases usually exemplify links between human health and geological processes. On the other hand, humans have used geological products for healing since time immemorial. A major portion of both endemic-disease areas and balneological resorts are located within geodynamically active regions.
This chapter consists of three parts. In the first part, we present a model for the development of geochemical halos in geodynamically active regions. We distinguished three interrelated ore-forming systems playing a crucial role in the epigenesis: catagenetic, exfiltration, and infiltration. Fluid degassing via faults is the main factor responsible for the concentration of elements, mineralization, and formation of ore deposits. In the second part, we review health effects of natural abnormal concentrations of trace elements (i.e., F, Si, Co, Zn, As, Se, Sr, I, and U), Rn, and volcanic gases in the environment. In the third part, we address healing effects of natural geological products, such as mineral and thermal waters, clays, muds, moor, sapropel, sands, flints, shungite, salt, and shilajit.
An assessment of health risks or benefits caused by geological materials should be started with the study of geological settings responsible for the concentration of trace elements and their geochemical features. It is important to map territories in terms of both epidemiological and balneological states, and to model their spatio-temporal dynamics under distinct environmental scenarios.