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From cities to uninhabited areas: Soil pollution is everywhere

Soil pollution; Soils in urban green spaces and natural areas share similar levels of many pollutants such as metals, pesticides

By Ground Report
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From cities to uninhabited areas: Soil pollution is everywhere

Soils in urban green spaces and natural areas share similar levels of many pollutants such as metals, pesticides, microplastics and antibiotic resistance genes worldwide, an international study shows. Soil contamination is one of the main threats to the health and stability of ecosystems.

The work, carried out by more than 40 authors from research centers and universities in Spain, China, Switzerland, Australia, Germany, Chile, South Africa, Nigeria, France, Portugal, Slovenia, Mexico, the United States, Brazil, India and Israel, was recently published in Nature Communications.

The team has collaborated with the ecologist Carlos Sanz Lázaro and Nuria Casado Coy, researchers from the Ramón Margalef Multidisciplinary Institute for Environmental Studies (IMEM), experts in the study of contamination by plastics and bioplastics.

Soil pollution affects urban biodiversity

Ecologist Carlos Sanz Lazaro, associated with the study, says that the environmental stress associated with soil pollution, whether natural or caused by humans, can directly affect biodiversity. Also, it can weaken the resilience of ecosystems against pollution, climate change and natural disasters.

Similarly increasing soil pollution in urban areas can badly affect the health of the people. For example, toxic metals present in the soil can affect the quality of water. Apart from this, green areas in cities are important places of recreation for people who they come in direct contact with the soil.

At present, emissions from vehicles, industrial processes and pesticides as well as improper management of waste are responsible for soil pollution.

In such a situation, it has been believed that these green areas present in the cities are more affected by this pollution than the natural areas, while the natural areas are geographically away from this pollution and remain safe from its increasing poison.

However, according to research, this is not correct. These deadly pollutants like heavy metals, pesticides, microplastics and antibiotic-resistant genes are spreading in the natural environment due to uncontrolled disposal of air, water and waste.

According to the researchers, evidence has been found in six continents that confirms that the amount of pollutants present in the soil in cities and natural areas is almost the same.

Microplastics detected in Antarctica soil

Similarly, according to the study, microplastics made by humans have also dissolved not only in cities but also in natural ecosystems around the world. Surprisingly, its amount was almost the same in the soil of urban green areas and natural environment. Even their polymers were the same.

Microplastic particles have also been found in the soil of uninhabited areas of Antarctica. Which can be plastic particles brought by sea and wind from research stations in Antarctica and other continents. Similarly, due to other activities like tourism, microplastics are accumulating in the soil of Antarctica.

The research also confirmed that the amount and characteristics of microplastics found in soil from natural areas are similar to microplastics found in soil from urban parks and gardens around the world. If seen, this poison dissolving in the soil clearly indicates that no area of the world is safe from this increasing pollution.

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