Whether it’s nuclear waste, plastics or other pollutants such as asbestos, the Earth’s soil is experiencing an alarming rate of degradation. Given that soil is the lifeblood of agriculture, we really need to do more to avert the destruction of our precious black stuff. Businesses too need to ensure that any land they build upon is not contaminated. Research into soil cleaning is always leading to the development of new ideas and the improvement of current methods. Here are five innovative and surprising new methods for cleaning soil.
Freezing is more about pausing the current state rather than fixing it, but this is what has been done to the groundwater around the Fukushima Power Plant. This protects the uncontaminated soil close by until science has come up with the right solution.
There are certain tees that actually clean the soil by soaking up the nasties inadvertently through a process known as ‘phytoremediation’. This includes willows and birches. Once plants have sucked pollutants from the soil, they can be logged and destroyed off site, leaving the cleaner soil intact.
The use of polymers in soil is not so much about cleaning contaminated soil but maintaining the health of uncontaminated soil. It does this by maintaining the right levels of moisture and nutrients.
Never underestimate the power of fungi. Finnish researchers have found a way to use fungi, not just to remove pollutants from soil, but to actually break them down. This has the advantage over phytoremediation in that there is no need to harvest anything.
Bacteria has amazing properties and is already used in commercial soil remediation (see below). Growing evidence suggests that bacteria can also be used in uranium polluted soil to neutralise the Earth. It may, therefore, be used in future to clean the soil close to nuclear power plants.
Companies such as https://soilfix.co.uk/services/soil-groundwater-remediation offer excellent soil remediation services, including both asbestos removal and bioremediation using microorganisms. They also offer a range of in-situ and off-site groundwater remediation services. These services are often necessary on land which has been previously built upon.
Scientists are coming up with excellent solutions for cleaning the precious soil which we use for growing plants and putting down house foundations. In an increasingly polluted world, this is more important than ever.