Saturday, February 28, 2015

Fracking: What can it lead to?

First off, what is fracking? It is a High-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as “fracking,” is a method of oil and gas extraction that injects millions of gallons of water laced with toxic chemicals and sand at high pressure deep underground, pivoting horizontally for up to one mile, to break apart shale rock formations.  

According to studies from Cornell University, they found that wastewater from hydraulic fracturing could result in a greater level of soil pollution. According to the study, "These particles then bind pollutants to metals, which means that the pollutants could cause more damage to wildlife and human health in the event of a spill."  

These spills from fracking can lead to not only affecting the area in which the fracking occurred, but also farm land. At every step of the fracking process, from injection and recovery to storage and transport, there is the potential for contamination of water through underground fissures, spills, leaks and blowouts to cause issues to the way food is watered, or food being contaminated directly. 

Fracking wastewater can contain radioactive materials, including strontium, uranium and radon. Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, barium and arsenic have been found in soils near gas sites. If contamination occurs on land that is certified organic, that land can be taken out of organic production for at least three years, and the farmer will lose that income.

The new study looked at the effects of flowback fluid, finding that as the water surges back up to the surface, it releases large amounts of natural gas from the rock. The water also results in soil particles being loosened. Pollutants are then able to bind themselves to these colloids, enabling them to leach out and pollute soil and water in the area.

Tessa Millhollin

Friday, February 27, 2015

Phytoremediation – One Possible Answer to Soil Contamination

Soil contamination is typically a man made issue and presents problems such as decreased soil fertility and crops containing harmful levels of pollutants. One possible solution is phytoremediation, the use of certain plants that can actually thrive in these conditions and absorb contaminants like heavy metals from the ground. People like Leon V. Kochian of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY have been studying plants like these since the early 1990s.

Unlike mechanical methods used to decontaminate soils, which disturb the environment and are not very cost effective, the use of phytoremediation is a clean and natural way to extract harmful elements into parts of the plant that can be easily harvested and disposed of.

The plant commonly known as alpine pennycress is a good example of a plant used for phytoremediation. It does well in environments containing high levels of cadmium and zinc, absorbing them using genes that can increase the solubility of such metals which can then be extracted for other economical uses.

Another example is a space in Clackamas, OR that was previously an abandoned grassy field in an industrial area. This particular space had groundwater contaminated by volatile organic compounds, most likely caused by illegal dumping. Poplar trees were planted in 1998 and by 2002 they were still alive and thriving. Tissue tests were done to show that the trees were indeed taking up the volatile organic compounds, thus showing that phytoremediation could be considered at other sites around the world.


Added by: Will Baker

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Contaminated Soil Intake Prevention

Image result for contaminated soil
Awareness of soil contamination is a good thing, but awareness alone is not enough. Prevention of contact with contaminated soil is equally, if not more, important. This article focuses on ways to help people avoid or lessen contact with contaminated soils. Contaminated soil can be taken into the body by simply breathing in contaminated dust. Contaminated soil can also be ingested if simple preventative measures are not taken. Children are especially vulnerable to ingesting contaminated soil. The easiest way to ensure that contaminated soil does not get ingested is by hand washing. Washing hands before meals and bedtime for children is a must. Any toys or objects that kids may put in their mouth should also be cleaned. Try to keep the amount of dust in the house to a minimum by taking off shoes before entering the home, dusting window sills and other surfaces regularly and vacuuming. Other preventative measures include limiting or avoiding outdoor activities that create dust and taking extra care when gardening. If we can all practice these few small things, we can keep ourselves and our children safe from soil contamination.

Danny West

Is lead-poisoning still a threat?

Since the dangers of lead have become more clear in recent years, it is true that some precautions are being taken to lessen the amount of lead exposure that all living organisms are being subjected to. However, lead is far from eradicated from our environment, which is why it is necessary to be aware of it and learn how to handle it. Lead can be very dangerous, if not fatal, when exposed in high and frequent doses. In order to avoid the potential danger associated with lead it is important to know when you may have encountered it.
If you live within a metropolitan area,  you may be at higher risk for lead exposure. Lead is often dispersed into the air and soil from auto emissions, making urban areas of particular concern. Those who are inclined to plant a garden of their own while living in a urban area can certainly still do so safely with the correct information and caution. If you fall into this category, you may be interested to know what changes you can make to be sure you are enjoying your garden to its fullest.
Added by: Kristina West

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How Industrial Pollution Contaminates Our Soil

Pollution is something that we hear about all the time. We know it’s bad and that we need to do something about it. The first step in figuring out how to reduce pollution is to learn about what is causing it and how it is affecting our land and our bodies.

One of the ways that our food is contaminated is through the soil where we grow our crops. There is more than one way that our soil can be contaminated, but today we will focus on industrial pollution. Soil contamination from factories is a very big problem in many parts of the world. China is hit especially hard by this type of pollution contaminating their soil. But how does it happen?  

Factories contaminate soil through two main methods, both of which trigger a chain reaction that eventually leads to our food being contaminated. The first way is through waste runoff. This runoff leaches into our ground water and is absorbed by the soil. Factories also pollute the air through smokestacks. The emissions from these smokestacks fall on the ground thus contamination the soil. Once the soil is contaminated the plants growing in this soil take up the contaminants through their roots. Crops grown in contaminated soil can also be covered in contaminated dirt. Once the crops are contaminated humans ingest the contaminants through the plants themselves or through eating livestock that grazed on the contaminated plants.

Now that we know what the problem is, what can we reduce industrial soil contamination? A big step you can take is to buy products from environmentally friendly companies. These companies work to reduce the amount of waste they produce. Supporting companies who work to reduce soil contamination sends a message to other companies that consumers want cleaner manufacturing practices and a cleaner earth.

To find environmentally friendly companies follow this link.

By: Amber Page

Preventing pollution of soil


    Soil pollution is one of the major problems taking place today. And there is no one else to blame, but ourselves. The pollution of soil is the result of the presence of contaminants, including toxic compounds, radioactive materials and other foreign and harmful chemicals, in the soil. Therefore, how can we prevent pollution of soil? Strong regulatory programs to minimize soil contamination need to be introduced. Reuse and recycle unwanted items. There is a need to educate public how harmful it is when they litter. If you are a gardener, please make use of organic fertilizers and organic pesticides, because they are usually made of natural substances, are bio-degradable and do little harm to the natural balance in the soil. Insist on buying natural and organic food. Cut down your usage of paper. Why should we prevent pollution of soil? The reason is it will threaten your life and your families lives. Maybe air pollution or water pollution catch your more attention, however, if you ignore soil pollution you may lost all of food you are eating today.


Added By: Di Wang

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Irony to Eating Healthy

The Problem about soil contamination is that humans can be exposed to it in multiple of ways, however, one of the most common method is through something that all have to do for their own survival: eating. Of course, anyone has the choice of eating what is considered to be “healthy,” such as fruits and vegetables, or “unhealthy,” potato crisps or candies. However, consider the crops that are shipped in from other parts of the States or parts of the world that are supposedly to be “healthy” are actually one of the way to be exposed to soil contaminants? Yes, however it also depends on the manner of how the farm irrigate their crops.

So why does consuming from the more poorly irrigated soils are considered to be harmful to the human body? First of all, for those soils that are exposed to heavy metals, such as lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic, are considered to be hazardous to humans because of their toxicity that could result in poisoning the person and lead to a disease. Take cadmium, for example, this element alone is toxic to the kidney. It also cause bone demineralization, either through direct bone damage or indirectly as a result of renal dysfunction. This is only one of the elements that causes harm to the body. Certainly, eating the plants that are grown on contaminated soils are unhealthy, however it is also important to know that sometimes when people do eat these vegetables the soil, or dirt, are also ingested by people as well. These soils are surely more concentrated in the harmful metals than eating the vegetables itself.

From what is said, eating vegetables and fruits can be harmful to yourselves in one way it seems. It is important to know that the crops that are grown have to pass through  Although, do not fret too much about the vegetables and fruits that are sitting in your kitchen: what a person can possibly do to lower the harm to themselves from ingesting these heavy-metals is to wash the fruits and vegetables thoroughly, making sure that there are no dirt on it before consumption -- best possible -- and to be cautious of where the items are from, possibly even do research on them.


Added by: Alana Chan

Sunday, February 22, 2015


Bioremediation: is a waste management treatment technique that involves the use of naturally occurring organisms to breakdown, neutralize, and remove hazardous pollutants into a less toxic or non toxic substance.

This new technology is a prominent and successful way soil pollutants are being managed. Bioremediation is used to restore contaminated soils, as well as manage storm water, and degrade volatile organic compounds. Microorganisms are used to consume contaminants in soils, ground and surface waters, and air. The contaminants are digested, metabolized, and transformed into humus and other byproducts such as carbon dioxide, water, and salts.

This form of treatment is significant because, as in any remediation project, the goal is to return the contaminated area to its pre contaminated condition. In addition to reducing contaminate levels, compost advances this goal by facilitation plant growth.

This natural process does not require as much equipment, labor, or energy as other clean up methods. Bioremediation is an advantageous method as it does not involve movement to the contaminated soil, it is treated onsite. Microbes change the harmful chemicals into small amounts of water and gasses, therefor, few, if any, waste byproducts are created. Bioremediation often occurs underground and does not cause much disruption to the site or surrounding community. It may take as little as a few months to a few years for microbes to clean up a site. When contaminant concentrations are high, for example, the process may take longer. 

To get your own bioremediation kit, visit Environmental Solutions, Inc. as it offers environmental management products, services, articles, and questions and answers concerning their Bioremedial cleaning products. They are dedicated to the clean-up and bioremediation of potentially harmful contaminants, and in doing so transform hazardous compounds into safe and disposable carbon dioxide and water. All of their products are safe to use, pH neutral, non-corrosive, non-toxic, and are meant for everyday use, not just large emergencies.

As simple, safe, and effective as the bioremediation process is, it is not widely used here in America. This could be due to a simple lack of knowledge on the subject. To be honest, before researching this topic, I had never heard of bioremediation. It is now up to you, the informed reader, armed with an effective solution, to share information and engage against this war with pollution.

Image from:

Added by: Mary Painter

Thursday, February 19, 2015

China's Soil

           According to the Environmental Protection Ministry, almost a fifth of China’s soil is contaminated.  Between 2005 and 2013, results show that 16.1% of China’s soil and 19.4% of its arable land show contamination. 
            China is a country that is constantly developing.  Its quick and constant industrialization poses great concern of irreparable damage to the soil and the environment.  Industrial activity is a major known cause for the contamination and eventual pollution of soil.  Extracting minerals from the earth can cause waste to linger in the soil surface long after the activity ceases.  “Due to long periods of extensive industrial development and high pollutant emissions, some regions have suffered deterioration land quality and serious soil pollution” (  Besides being an industrial area, many parts of China see heavy agricultural activity, which is also a major known cause for soil contamination and pollution.  Agricultural activity sees an increase in chemical utilization with modern pesticides and fertilizers.  Many of the chemicals used aren’t natural and therefore cannot be broken down by nature.  This soil pollution can cause underground water contamination which can damage the quality and the quantity of crops.   
            How is this affecting the population in China?  Many local farmers aren’t eating the food they are growing.  Their crops are planted in soil that is polluted with lead, mercury, and other metals that are extremely dangerous to human health.  The most unfortunate part of all this is that poor people living in China have no choice but to eat the contaminated food.  Isabel Hilton, founder and editor of the China Dialogue Report, says that serious health issues, including cancer and diseases infecting the nervous system, could be cause by soil pollution.  The Environmental Protection Ministry has admitted to “cancer villages” that exist in China.  This number is listed to be at about 450 and increasing as time goes by. 

            The pollution problem is severe and urgent, yet it has attracted too little attention.  It is extremely crucial that we begin to take measure to confront the problem in China.  There are parts of China where polluting factories have closed down, but western China is not following the trend.  Getting rid of the pollution and contamination is not only about the removal of contaminants.  It is more complex than this.  We must restore soil health to help ensure food safety and the well-being of the people.  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

How to Be More Than Simply Aware

Back in 1948, Paul Lazarfeld and Robert Merton were concerned with the newest technology in the mass media industry and the effects that would ultimately end up changing the way our culture works. They narrowed down the 3 main functions of print, film, and radio. 1 of those 3 was something Lazarfeld and Merton call the “Narcotizing Dysfunction” of mass media (p. 105). A narcotic is a drug that soothes, relieves, or numbs pain or discomfort. A dysfunction is an unhealthy or abnormal performance.

They came up with a fancy way to say that observation of mass media outlets would soothe our concerns of major social issues simply by informing us of their presence and, instead of being called to action, we would feel a sense of political involvement from merely knowing that the problem existed. This should ultimately cause us to not act on the things we feel are important. How is this article from nearly 60 years ago relevant to soil-contamination?

Here you are, on eco-pol researching soil-contamination through our blog and, hopefully, our website. You know what soil-contamination is, you know what causes it, and you know what it effects. That is a great first step, but it is our hope that this is not the final step. It’s the biggest challenge of activists to figure out how to inspire our readers enough to encourage them to act on their beliefs once they are aware of the problem. But how? What can you, as a single person in this big ol’ world, do to help the cause?

And I promise, we are NOT asking you for money. There are many ways you can get involved and make a difference: By supporting social/political groups, by changing personal habits (several of which are suggested in other blog posts on this page), and by sharing your newfound information with others. I also highly recommend looking into our up-and-coming DIY page that will be featured on our website in the near-future.

In the mean-time, share our page! Another interesting media effect is their tendency to be an echo of the public at large. To be considered important, the media has to KNOW people think it’s important, which then spreads the word to others that, “Wow, this must be important because the media is talking about it.” It may seem like a silly series of “reciprocal pats on the back” between the media and its audience, but time and time again, it works (Lazarfeld and Merton, p 102).

Avoid being “narcotized” by the fact that you now know about soil-contamination. Be a part of the solution as well!

Lazarfeld, P.F., & Merton, R.K. (1948) Mass communication, popular taste, and organized social action. In L. Bryson (Ed.) The communication of ideas (pp. 95-118). New York: Institute for Religious and Social Studies.

Added by: Erin Kashuba

Soil Contamination at Home

Soil contamination is possibly not in many people’s mind since this is something that is invisible to our naked eyes but is around us and are harmful. This contamination is not only a thing that is made from industrial waste or the matter of landfill, the automobiles’ gas emission, certain metals, but also it is from some things we could commonly dismiss for its commonality, such as those that are used agriculturally: the fertilizers to grow our crops, even the ones at the backyard for flowers and vegetables, in which these fertilizers have a certain level of soil contamination due to the fact that they contain heavy metals. For example, those made with waste products contain copper, zinc, cadmium, and lead. Although chemical fertilizers and even the animal manure possibly have the higher level of contaminant than others.

Some of the daily items that many use as well, for instance, the furnishings. Furnitures are absolutely harmless --no, they can’t attack people-- however, the work that is done before they are used, such as the different solvent the chair may need to be applied, could be harmful if handled improperly supposing that the chemical trails off to the soil.

The modern era is a life that many of our generation are used to due to conveniences, the advancements that is made to what is now today. That includes some of the harmful, yet unintentional effects, that are made to the environment. Some things that are in the market today for the public to use may be harmful, but all should be mindful of how we execute a task and our decisions of choosing what to use for our family and everything around, especially if there is a better alternative.


Added by: Alana Chan

Soil contamination health risks

This article addresses the facts surrounding the health risks that are associated with soil contamination. Aside from the billions of dollars of food products that are lost due to soil contamination, another and far more serious problem comes with polluted soil. This article outlines risks such as cancer, kidney and liver damage, as well as neurological damages in children. The scary thing is that humans can be poisoned indirectly by soil that, by itself, may not even contain enough pollutants to be considered dangerous. Imagine not being able to allow your child the simple joy of playing in the dirt in your back yard for fear of cancer or some neurological damage. Imagine not being able to or wanting to go on a pic-nic for the same reasons. Soil contamination is not something that you will see the effects of immediately and so it doesn't seem that scary. What is scary is the thought that our children or children's children may not survive because of an inability to grow crops and feed a subsequent generation or themselves. What is scary is watching your child or grandchild suffer leukemia because we could not find a way to battle soil contamination. There are things we can and should do now to prevent what will be in the future if we fail to act.

Danny West


OSU Soil Science Class Reaches out to Corvallis Community Children

Photo by Sonya Templeton

I recently spoke to Sonya Templeton, a Natural Resources major at Oregon State University, about the work her Soil Science class is doing in the community. According to Sonya, her soil Science class focuses on “how soil development and land management affect soil quality and sustainability”. Last week Sonya’s class went to Jefferson Elementary School in Corvallis, Oregon where they helped the school build gardens for the children to plant seeds. These beds can be used as teaching aids for the teachers to build classes around and will also provide an opportunity for parent involvement.

The class used a raised bed method when building the garden because the soil was “poor and compact”. In order to build the beds, they had the City of Corvallis bring in leaves to use as a base compost and then used fertile loam as the main soil topped with a layer of compost. Sonya said that they “used [their] knowledge of what a healthy soil is "loam" which is an even mix of sand, silt and clay and stores nutrients and water that is always readily available to the plants.” After the class was finished building the beds, they laid seed on top which the kindergarten class had previously sorted.

The opportunity for the students at Jefferson Elementary to learn how to plant and take care of a garden will be beneficial to the future of this community. The more time we spend teaching our children how to take care of soil and grow healthy foods, the healthier our land and children can become.  

By: Amber Page

Learning self-sustainability in a world of co-dependency.


    In a time where it has become somewhat of a mystery as to what chemicals are present on store bought fruits and vegetables, many people have opted to plant and maintain their own garden. While this habit of self-sustainability can prove extremely beneficial, it is important to be aware of other dangers which could be lurking within the soil of your garden. In order to effectively cultivate a nourishing garden for your family, it is vital to provide it with healthy soil, and while potentially contaminated soil may seem beyond our ability to change, it is in fact possible to restore. Cleansing contaminated soil can help your garden to flourish by increasing the soil's ability to retain water and vital nutrients. Are you curious about how to tell if your garden soil may be contaminated and is so, how you can take the steps necessary to mend it? Click the link below for enlightenment!

Added by: Kristina West

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Soil Pollution

"The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no life."
-Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America:Culture and Agriculture 

Soil is the upper layer of the unsaturated zone of the earth. This natural body is made of mineral and organic constituents, and is produced by solid material recycling and complex processes of solid crust modifications. Soil is a habitat for many organisms, is the living medium for plants, and the basis for agriculture. All animals depend upon soil, therefor, it is our jobs as humans to take care and clean the messes we have made, as the majority of soil contaminates are man-made. We see this in the increase in domestic waste, especially sewage sludge and its disposal to land, and the use of pesticides and fertilizers on farm crops, even in our backyards. One 40 pound bag of synthetic fertilizer contains the fossil fuel equivalent of about 2.5 gallons of gasoline according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

 In the larger picture the growing industrialization of the world has led to a considerable amount of soil degradation on a global scale. The extensive use of chemicals in industry has caused a great amount of soil becoming polluted with other substances, such as PAH (polyaromatic hydrocarbons, created when products like coal, oil, gas, and garbage are burned but the burning process is not complete), PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls, banned in 1979, used in many industrial applications due to their non-flammability, chemical stability, high boiling point, and electrical insulating properties), TNT (trinitrotoluene, a high explosive and is used as a reagent in chemical synthesis), and a other dioxins leading to contamination. 

Here are some techniques that can and are being utilized to decontaminate the soil:
Phytoremediation. This approach involves growing plants and trees and their associated microorganisms to stabilize or reduce contamination in soils. The pollutants are actually sucked up into the plant above ground, and then can be harvested and destroyed. Another approach uses Fungi. The fungi alters the makeup of the pollutants. Their mycelia grows in the soil, which has the effect of polluting the compounds and breaking them down into a safer state. More about this method can be read at:

Sources and further reading:

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Cause and effect of soil polution

There are plenty of definitions for soil contamination and for the most part they are all very similar. This article gives a brief overview of what soil contamination, or pollution, is and what causes it. With the never ending expansion of cities, roads and highways and the like, the amount of useable soil has shrunk. Large corporations have only recently had to comply with laws and regulations that monitor and limit the amount of waste and contaminants that they produce. Many of our human waste products contain chemicals that are not naturally occurring in our soil, and the result is contamination. The effects of soil contamination have a global consequence and the responsibility to safeguard our soil does not rest with one person or entity; it belongs to all of us as humans. The article details how soil pollution contributes, possibly, to diseases that have irreversible effects and countless other congenital health problems. There are things that we can do now to stem the adverse effects of soil contamination, but the road to recovery is going to be long and difficult. However, it is necessary for our survival and sustainability as a species.

Added by: Danny West

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Soil Contamination- Parents Beware


   Most children love the outdoors. As parents and care-givers, we often allow our children to play outside, as we should. However, there are dangers present which are completely unseen, and often unknown to many parents. If nothing else, the potential danger to your children should create a willingness to become educated on the effects of soil contamination.
   As with many other topics, children are particularly susceptible to the harmful effects of soil contamination. Because children breathe more air into their lungs than adults, and because children are more likely to cover their hands and other body parts in soil, and potentially ingesting soil, it is important to take certain precautions when supervising children outdoors. While it is not recommended to isolate children from any soil contact, it is recommended that parents and care-givers follow certain procedures to lessen the likelihood of harmful effects. Some recommended precautions include washing hands often, and always before meals, removing dirty shoes when entering a household, being cautious of known contaminated soil, as well as taking caution when planting a garden.
   Being aware of the potential for danger is important, and acting in a way which will promote safety is the best precaution to protect children from the possible harm resulting in unhealthy contact with contaminated soil.

Soil Contamination- Effects on Children.pdf

Added by: Kristina West

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Soil contamination in China

International media have commended the release, which revealed startling statistics such as one-fifth of arable land is polluted and contaminated with inorganic chemicals like cadmium, nickel and arsenic in China. Chronic exposure to cadmium can lead to kidney disease, skin lesions and skin cancer. However, the amount allocated to soil seems to be a drop in the bucket. Part of the reason for this discrepancy is the lack of public awareness about soil pollution, the Chinese are comparatively much more aware of the dangers of air and water pollution. However, depending on the survey results there are some major gaps. First, it should be noted that none of the raw data or full survey results were released to the public, and likely will not be. Second, careful attention should be paid to how exactly the statistics and findings are worded in the report. And the government can not access to the full raw data and results of the survey it will never solve the true issue.

By: Di Wang

Soil contamination is different with soil pollution

Soil contamination is different with soil pollution. Soil contamination is either solid or liquid hazardous substances mixed with the naturally occurring soil. Soil contamination happens related to two aspects which are either spilled or buried directly in the soil or migrate to the soil from a spill that has occurred elsewhere. For example, some hazardous particles are released from a smokestack or water that washes contamination from an area containing hazardous substances and deposits  the contamination in the soil as it flows over or through it. No matter plants animals or humans depend on the soil. Therefore, soil contamination must hurt these lives. Contaminants in the soil can adversely impact the health of animals and humans when they ingest, inhale, or touch contaminated soil, or when they eat plants or animals that have themselves been affected by soil contamination. However, how can we clean it up? The treatment approaches can include: flushing contaminants out of the soil using water, chemical solvents, or air; destroying the contaminants by incineration; encouraging natural organisms in the soil to break them down; or adding material to the soil to encapsulate the contaminants and prevent them from spreading.

By Di Wang
Reference: Soil Contamination. (2011, August 9). Retrieved January 17, 2015, from