Lead is one of the top three most common soil contaminants, along with cadmium and arsenic. Because there is such a high amount of lead contamination in America’s cities, and the cost to clean it all up would be exorbitant, scientists have been trying out new techniques to reduce the risk of lead poisoning altogether.
According to the New York Times, the surprising solution is fish bones. More specifically, it is the calcium phosphate contained in the fish bones that does the trick. Scientists have been adding fish bone meal to lead contaminated soil. The calcium phosphate in the ground up fish bones then combines with the lead in the contaminated soil and forms pyromorphite, which is a harmless, consumable crystalline material. This, in turn, neutralizes the lead’s poising effects on humans, thus reducing the risk of lead poisoning.
This solution, which has been pushed forward by the Environmental Protection Agency, has actually been in use for at least the past twenty years. This option is also much more affordable than alternative forms of lead cleanup, and if it catches on, has the potential to replace the old method of digging up and disposing of contaminated soil.
Photo Credit: Jim Wilson, The New York Times