Special Issue "Soil Pollution Assessment and Sustainable Remediation Strategies"

A special issue of Environments (ISSN 2076-3298).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (26 June 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Paula Alvarenga
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Instituto Superior de Agronomia (ISA), University of Lisbon, 1649-004 Lisbon, Portugal
Interests: soil pollution; trace metals; soil quality assessment; organic wastes; soil amendments; phytoremediation
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

When the presence of a chemical in soil affects humans, or other living organisms, producing undesired effects, that soil is considered polluted. Some of these chemicals are human-made, such as organic xenobiotics (e.g., pesticides), while others may have both a natural and anthropogenic origin, such as trace elements (e.g., metals and metalloids). In addition to these usually known pollutants, soils can be also affected by emerging contaminants (e.g., nanoparticles, human and veterinary drugs, microplastics), knowledge of which is still scarce.

These pollutants will not only affect the soil but, ultimately, different resources and environmental compartments, which will represent a major risk. To control this risk, measures must be taken on the polluted soil, which can range from the sole isolation of the affected area, to its full decontamination. Of course, confinement and remediation actions are costly, and sometimes, pollution affects countries that lack legislation, and the extension of the affected area makes the costs of soil remediation high and, certainly, not considered as a priority. Nevertheless, there are solutions for the management of contaminated soils, controlling risks, and promoting their remediation using sustainable practices. This is true for biological methods, bioremediation and phytoremediation, which can be used both singly or combined, allowing the immobilization, extraction or degradation of different soil contaminants, contributing to the control of the risk of exposure to the pollutant, or to soil decontamination, through the continuous reduction of their concentration.

This Special Issue welcomes studies on different soil pollutants: concentrations and soil–plant–water interactions, bioavailability assessment, risks to human health, negative effects on the environment (e.g., freshwater and groundwater, soil organisms, soil functions, ecosystem services), soil quality evaluation, and sustainable soil remediation strategies. Studies in real soil pollution scenarios and remediation in long-term field studies are encouraged.

Prof. Dr. Paula Alvarenga
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Environments is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • soil pollutants
  • potentially toxic trace elements
  • persistent organic pollutants
  • soil emerging pollutants
  • bioavailability assessment
  • risk assessment
  • soil quality
  • soil remediation
  • phytoremediation
  • bioremediation

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Article
Comparison between a Traditional (Horse Manure) and a Non-Conventional (Cork Powder) Organic Residue in the Uptake of Potentially Toxic Elements by Lettuce in Contaminated Soils
Environments 2021, 8(5), 45; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8050045 - 18 May 2021
Viewed by 626
Abstract
The use of natural organic correctives is a current agricultural practice that may have advantages for the production of plants in contaminated soils. Cork powder is a natural sub-product of the cork industry that has several potential benefits compared to more commonly used [...] Read more.
The use of natural organic correctives is a current agricultural practice that may have advantages for the production of plants in contaminated soils. Cork powder is a natural sub-product of the cork industry that has several potential benefits compared to more commonly used soil amendments. In this work, an evaluation was performed of the use of cork powder (a non-conventional organic residue) and horse manure (traditionally used in agriculture) to control the availability of potentially toxic elements in artificially contaminated soils. Four concentrations were used for each element: Cr (100 to 800 mg kg−1), Ni (37.5 to 300 mg kg−1), Zn (150 to 1200 mg kg−1), Cd (1.5 to 12 mg kg−1) and Pb (150 to 1200 mg kg−1). The accumulation of these elements in lettuce plants grown in pots under controlled conditions was evaluated. With the exception of Cd, no significant differences were detected in the absorption of the different elements by lettuce plants at the studied amounts of correctives applied (1% for cork powder and 0.5% for horse manure). Cadmium was the element that accumulated most in lettuce. Cork powder was shown to be less effective than horse manure in controlling the bioavailability of these elements in the soil. Further tests with chemically modified cork products could improve its efficiency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Pollution Assessment and Sustainable Remediation Strategies)
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Communication
Evaluating the Pollution Risk of Soil Due to Natural Drainage of Orange Peel: First Results
Environments 2021, 8(5), 43; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8050043 - 12 May 2021
Viewed by 630
Abstract
Orange peel (OP), the main residue of the citrus industry, is usually used for animal feeding and soil fertilisation if more advanced options are lacking. In areas with warm and dry climatic conditions, OP is land-spread for solar-drying on the fields, the leachate [...] Read more.
Orange peel (OP), the main residue of the citrus industry, is usually used for animal feeding and soil fertilisation if more advanced options are lacking. In areas with warm and dry climatic conditions, OP is land-spread for solar-drying on the fields, the leachate produced is a potential pollution factor for soil especially due to the release of organic matter; heavy rainfalls could even aggravate the hazard. Since literature does not report any quantitative evaluation of this risk, this study presents three OP drainage tests in lysimeters, where OP was left releasing leachate on a soil layer. A first test was carried out on raw OP naturally draining, while, in a second and a third test, a rainfall of 100 mm was applied on already drained and solar-dried OP, respectively. After drainage, raw OP reduced its initial volume by about 90% and the leachate production accounted only for about 20% of the initial volume. The simulated rainfall produced even lower volumes of leachate (2–3% of the initial biomass volume), in spite of the high rainfall volume and long drainage time after its application. The COD concentration in the leachate from the raw OP was significantly higher than those produced after simulated rainfall. However, the COD amount released to the soil was negligible. The lysimetric tests showed that the release of leachate occurs mainly during the first phase of drainage and that rainfall is absorbed and does not produce significant leaching. Overall, the risk of soil pollution due to the natural drainage of OP is negligible, due to both limited amounts of leachate and organic loading. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Pollution Assessment and Sustainable Remediation Strategies)
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Article
Sources of Light Density Microplastic Related to Two Agricultural Practices: The Use of Compost and Plastic Mulch
Environments 2021, 8(4), 36; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8040036 - 20 Apr 2021
Viewed by 1234
Abstract
Microplastics (MPs) constitute a known, undesirable contaminant of the ecosystems. Land-based pollution is considered to be an important contributor, but microplastics in the terrestrial environment remains largely unquantified. Some agriculture practices, such as plastic mulch and compost application, are suspected to be major [...] Read more.
Microplastics (MPs) constitute a known, undesirable contaminant of the ecosystems. Land-based pollution is considered to be an important contributor, but microplastics in the terrestrial environment remains largely unquantified. Some agriculture practices, such as plastic mulch and compost application, are suspected to be major sources of microplastics as plastics are exposed to weathering or are present in organic fertilizers. The overall aim of this research is to bridge the terrestrial plastic contamination information gap, focusing on light density microplastics in two vegetable production systems in Southeast Spain and in the Netherlands. The selected farmer in Spain used plastic mulch for more than 12 years whereas the two farmers in the Netherlands annually applied 10 t ha−1 compost for the past 7 and 20 years. Samples from two different depths were collected: 0–10 cm and 10–30 cm. High quality compost samples originating from municipal organic waste and from garden and greenhouse waste were obtained from two Dutch compost plants. All samples from both Spanish (n = 29) and Dutch (n = 40) soils were contaminated by microplastics, containing 2242 ± 984 MPs kg−1 and 888 ± 500 MPs kg−1, respectively. Compost samples from municipal organic waste (n = 9) were more contaminated than the ones from garden and green house wastes (n = 19), with, respectively, 2800 ± 616 MPs kg−1 and 1253 ± 561 MPs kg−1. These results highlight the need for studies focusing on the effects of microplastics in the environment and the need for monitoring campaigns and the implementation of thresholds to regulate the microplastic contamination. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Pollution Assessment and Sustainable Remediation Strategies)
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Article
Dissolution of Ag Nanoparticles in Agricultural Soils and Effects on Soil Exoenzyme Activities
Environments 2021, 8(3), 22; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8030022 - 19 Mar 2021
Viewed by 803
Abstract
To assess environmental risks related to the mobility and toxicity of AgNPs, the chemical availability of AgNPs and polyvinylpyrrolidone-coated AgNPs (PVP-AgNPs) in three agricultural soils was quantified in a pot experiment. Porewater collection and soil extractions with 0.01 M CaCl2, 0.4 [...] Read more.
To assess environmental risks related to the mobility and toxicity of AgNPs, the chemical availability of AgNPs and polyvinylpyrrolidone-coated AgNPs (PVP-AgNPs) in three agricultural soils was quantified in a pot experiment. Porewater collection and soil extractions with 0.01 M CaCl2, 0.4 M Glycine (pH 1.5) and 0.05 M NH4-EDTA were performed. The effect on soil exoenzyme activities was also assessed. Porewater concentration was low (<0.4% and <0.04% of dosed Ag, for AgNPs and PVP-AgNPs, respectively) and only detected in acidic soils (pH 4.4 and 4.9). The PVP-coating reduced the downward mobility of AgNPs in soil and possibly also their dissolution rate (and subsequent release of dissolved Ag+ ions into porewater). The effect of variation in organic matter on soil enzymatic activity was larger than that of AgNPs, as no significant additional inhibitory effect from Ag could be observed. Only at low pH and in the presence of complexing ligands that form very stable Ag complexes (0.4 M Glycine extraction at pH 1.5) up to 58% of the Ag added to soil was released (independently of PVP coating). An extraction with glycine is proposed as a useful indicator of potentially available Ag in soils. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Pollution Assessment and Sustainable Remediation Strategies)
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Review

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Review
The Dynamics of Tungsten in Soil: An Overview
Environments 2021, 8(7), 66; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8070066 - 17 Jul 2021
Viewed by 291
Abstract
The increasing use of tungsten in the production of green energy in the aerospace and military industries, and in many other hi-tech applications, may increase the content of this element in soil. This overview examines some aspects of the behavior of tungsten in [...] Read more.
The increasing use of tungsten in the production of green energy in the aerospace and military industries, and in many other hi-tech applications, may increase the content of this element in soil. This overview examines some aspects of the behavior of tungsten in soil, such as the importance of characteristics of soils in relation to bioavailability processes, the chemical approaches to evaluate tungsten mobility in the soil environment and the importance of adsorption and desorption processes. Tungsten behavior depends on soil properties of which the most important is soil pH, which determines the solubility and polymerization of tungstate ions and the characteristics of the adsorbing soil surfaces. During the adsorption and desorption of tungsten, iron, and aluminum oxides, and hydroxides play a key role as they are the most important adsorbing surfaces for tungsten. The behavior of tungsten compounds in the soil determines the transfer of this element in plants and therefore in the food chain. Despite the growing importance of tungsten in everyday life, environmental regulations concerning soil do not take this element into consideration. The purpose of this review is also to provide some basic information that could be useful when considering tungsten in environmental legislation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Pollution Assessment and Sustainable Remediation Strategies)
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