Sapropel medical importance. Sapropel might seem something mysterious and incomprehensible that can be found somewhere deep in the water and is sunlight inaccessible. However, an extremely interesting and useful material has long been a major success for health improvement and treatment. Sapropel used in medicine for a long time and is widely used in various health sectors, but still not sufficiently explored. This amazing natural material found in the climatic zone of Europe and Asia. Sapropel is a common material in the water basement of the lakes in Latvia (Stankevica 2012, 2014; Strus 2015, 2018; Tretjakova 2015; Schepetkin 2002).
Sapropel is sludge sediment in lakes, with a fine structure that contains incompletely divided organic matter and microscopic aquatic life forms residues with trace of sand, clay, calcium carbonate, and other rock impurities (Stankevica 2012; Schepetkin 2002; Bakšienė 2005; Blečić 2014; Sigl 2007).
Sapropel is a pasty mass of light grey, pink, brown, brownish olive or almost black. Sapropel’s deposits in swamps and lakes only occurred on post-ice age, which took place in the Baltic States 12–15 thousand years ago.
Medical mud formed by complex biological transformations of Holocene sediments. The composition of the therapeutic mud depends on the location of the acquisition - freshwater, saltwater or thermal springs. Sapropel sludge is classified as inorganic sediment sludge, river or lake mud, organic sediment sludge, freshwater and saltwater lake mud, peat sludge, mixed sludge, volcanic sludge and artificial sludge (Sigl 2007; Batzias 2014).
In ancient times, people considered that sapropel can cure almost any disorder, even improve the long-term effects on the skin. Even today it is attributed that sapropel is marvellous material for wide range applications.
People are always concerned about maintaining beauty and health, and illness treating. Already in the 5th century B.C. ancient Greek scientist, Herodotus developed a method of using mineral waters for health improvement (Erfurt 2011).
Hippocrates also wrote about the healing properties of the seawater and saltwater. However, only in the 19th Century the science direction, that explores the use of various mineral and thermal waters as well as sludge or sapropel for health maintenance and treatment of various diseases progressed (Cirillo 1994). This type of treatment called balneology. Despite the fact, balneology as mud therapy became popular in Europe in the 17th Century already. Balneology developed in Germany, France, Italy, Austria, and Romania. Various experiments with mineral water and sludge helped to understand the healing properties. Sludge began to use in cosmetics and cosmetic surgery to promote skin firmness and skin rejuvenation after surgical manipulations and skin damages (Van Tubergen 2002).
To improve health quickly, in the 20th Century, hydrotherapy began to use to supplement other therapies, such as peloid therapy or mud therapy, massage, ionophoresis, phonopheresis, physiotherapy and gymnastics (Constantin 2011; Andrade 2011).
Balneotherapy has proven its healing abilities in the treatment of various rheumatologic (connective tissue) diseases - osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis and other skeletal muscle diseases (Celso de Sousa Figueiredo Gomes 2018).
Sapropel is a multifunctional and widely used medical treatment, and believed to be useful for lymphatic and circulatory enhancement, vascular strengthening, skin structure, cellulite and subcutaneous fat reduction. It has a pronounced antibacterial effect and enriches the body with calcium, magnesium, bromine, iodine, potassium, and amino acids. Sapropel has an antioxidant effect that improves skin structure, smoothens wrinkles and prevents new wrinkles, removes swelling, strengthens nails and hair, normalizes sebaceous gland secretion, helps hair loss. The therapeutic effect of sapropel helps to restore immunity, maintain the cellular structure of various skin diseases - dermatitis, seborrhea, acne, and other rashes and other skin diseases. However, today, sapropel preparations are most widely used in balneotherapy and cosmetology, especially in the treatment of chronic or protracted diseases (Constantin 2011; Andrade 2011; Celso de Sousa Figueiredo Gomes 2018; Ablin 2013; Klavina 2019; Stankeviča 2014; Sánchez-Espejo 2014).
The multifunctional effect of sapropel on the whole organism explained by its complex of chemical and biological structure. The bioactivity of sapropel determines by its humic acids, fulvic acids and heratomelic acids, various vitamins and microorganisms that release antibiotics. Previously, sapropel commonly used in raw form and there is no standard methods for sapropel extraction, generally. Currently, there are few extraction methods for getting bioactive components from raw sapropel (Klavina 2019). Latvian freshwater sapropel could be used as raw material for getting sapropel extract and use it as remedy. All mentioned above brings us to the main question for sapropel usage in medicine, balneology and pharmacy “how to develop quality criteria for raw sapropel and its extracts”. The quality criteria should include minimum requirements for pollution levels (heavy metals, pesticides), biologically active substance concentration, pH values, antioxidants as well as physical characteristics (Obuka, 2018; Sánchez-Espejo 2014).
Sapropel legislation. It is important to monitor and inspect sapropel extraction sites to assess the level of contamination and the environmental impact of anthropogenic activity. Sediment contamination is considered to be a major environmental issue because sediment acts as a reservoir for pollution. Sediments are an integral part of the aquatic ecosystem, which provides food and habitat for various aquatic species.
Production of sapropel in the industrial scale in Latvia is regulated by several Laws and Cabinet Regulations. One of them is the Environmental Protection Law (2013), which is the main normative act in the field of environmental protection. The purpose of the law is to ensure the preservation of the quality of the environment and the sustainable use of natural resources.
The Law on Environmental Impact Assessment (2017) defines the activities that require environmental impact assessment. The need for an environmental impact assessment procedure for the extraction of sapropel in lakes is governed by Chapter IV Section I point 1 and point 25 of Annex 1.
Obtaining Sapropel must also comply with the On Pollution Law (2018). Pollution, purpose is to prevent or reduce damage to human health, property and the environment caused by pollution. The law sets out the procedures and guidelines that must be taken into account when performing polluting activities to minimize the impact on natural resources such as soil, air, and water. The planned extraction of minerals should take into account the emissions of water, and air pollutants.
Law On the Conservation of Species and Biotopes (2017) regulates issues related to the protection of protected species and habitats. One of the main aims of the law is to ensure biodiversity by preserving the fauna, flora, and biotopes characteristic of Latvia. Extraction of the sapropel can also pose a threat to the habitat in the lake and affect species diversity.
The acquisition of Sapropel must comply with the Spatial Development Planning Law (2014). When planning the extraction of mineral resources, the conformity of the intended land use with the municipal spatial plans shall be taken into account.
It is important to consider the Protection Zone Law (2016) when planning the acquisition of a sapropel. The main tasks of this Law are to determine the types and functions of protection zones. Certain areas, the task of which shall be to protect different types of objects (natural, as well as artificial) from undesirable external effects, to ensure the exploitation and safety thereof or to protect the environment and people from the harmful effect of an object.
The purpose of the Natural Resources Tax Law (2017) is to limit the mismanagement of natural resources and environmental pollution, as well as to promote the introduction of new and improved technology that reduces environmental pollution.
When extracting mineral resources, the legal requirements regarding the management of hazardous waste and municipal waste generated by the equipment used in the extraction process Waste Management Law (2018) must be observed.
When obtaining sapropel on the industrial scale, it is also important to comply with a number of Cabinet Regulations, including the Regulations on Lists of Specially Protected and Restricted Species, No. 396 (2004); Regulations on List of Species of Specially Protected Habitats, No. 350 (2017); Rules on the criteria used to assess the significance of the impact of damage to particularly protected species or habitats, No. 213 (2007).
With regard to the extraction of sapropel, it is necessary to assess its impact on lake water quality; to ensure that the environmental quality standards for priority and hazardous substances in surface waters and the priority substances in the lake biota are not exceeded during the extraction process (Regulations on the quality of surface and groundwater, No. 118, 2002).
Regulations on the Discharge of Pollutants into Water, No. 34 (2002) establishes limit values and prohibitions for the emission of pollutants into water, as well as the procedures by which the operator controls the number of pollutants discharged into water, perform monitoring and provides relevant information.
Before starting the extraction of the sapropel, attention should be paid to the Law On Subterranean Depths (2018), which is one of the most important normative acts regulating the extraction of natural resources. It defines the procedure for the complex, rational and environmentally friendly use of subterranean depths. Pursuant to Sect. 15 of that law in accordance with the procedures specified by the Cabinet of Ministers No. 106 (2010) the main requirements for the protection of subterranean depths which may be attributed to the extraction of a sapropel are the rational extraction of minerals and the use of by-products from the field; and use of subterranean depths without adverse effects on mineral resources and subterranean properties.