Tuesday, March 10, 2015

What metals are in our Soil?

There are a variety of metal compounds in our soil due to manufacturing, industrial waste, to the use of synthetic products. The locations of these metal compounds are everywhere, but most can be found in landfill sites where waste piles and municipal sludge is present. The causes of waste lead to heavy metal accumulation and can be very toxic to humans and our environment. The chemicals in the waste increase the toxicity of the soil and can be either normally chronic or acute. Exposure of the metals overtime (normally chronic) is due to food chain transfer.  In other words, all living things need to feed to get energy for growth and reproduce. Energy is transferred along food chains. Acute poisoning (immediate) from metals can be caused through ingestions and dermal contact.  There are three metals that are associated with long-term heavy metal exposures:

Lead can cause mental lapse, Cadmium affects kidney, liver, and GI tract, and Arsenic causes skin poisoning, affects kidneys, and central nervous system (USDA, 2000).
There are cationic metals (positively charged cations in soil) and anionic compounds (combination and negatively charged)
Cationic metals: mercury, lead, nickel, copper, zinc, chromium, maganese
Anionic metals: selenium, boron, arsenic, molybdenum

The best way to protect yourself against these potential dangerous metals is prevention. There are treatments to reduce the toxicity by high temperature treatments, solidifying agents (cement-like material), and washing process (leaches out contamination).

Source: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs142p2_053279.pdf

By: Kim Carpio 

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