How to take care of polluted soils ?

A work document


By Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem (Ghent University, Belgium)

Polluted soils and TC

by Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem (Ghent University, Belgium)

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La ciencia para limpiar un humedal


Marino Morikawa, el científico peruano que usó la ciencia para limpiar un humedal


Prácticamente el solo ha conseguido descontaminar el Cascajo en Perú. Marino Morikawa es un científico peruano que empleó todos sus ahorros, incluido un préstamo, y todo su conocimiento para salvar un humedal que visitaba cuando era un niño.

El humedal estaba tan sucio y contaminado que las autoridades planeaban cubrirlo, entonces decidió recuperarla por su cuenta y con sus propios recursos.

Con sus conocimientos adquiridos en la universidad japonesa de Tsukeba, Marino desarrolló un sistema simple y barato de descontaminación, con materiales que se pueden comprar en cualquier ferretería.

Marino dividió el humedal en ocho sectores con cañas del lugar, de guayaquil y de bambú. Estuvo una semana desde las 7 de la mañana hasta las 8 de la noche quitando las algas acuáticas, “lechugas” como las llama él. Poco a poco se le fueron uniendo voluntarios en la tarea.

Solo en el primer sector sacaron 70 toneladas de “lechugas”, con las que hicieron compost. Consiguieron con la ayuda de mas de 100 voluntarios sacar todas las algas del humedal.

El siguiente paso era tratar el agua contaminada. Usando la nanotecnología, las micro/nano burbujas. Imaginaos que la nano burbuja es 10.000 veces mas pequeña que la burbuja de una gaseosa. Las nano burbujas capturaban los contaminantes y unos biofiltros los eliminaban.

Su esfuerzo obtuvo su recompensa, 70 especies de aves y 3 especies de peces regresaron al humedal.

Actualmente trabaja en la recuperación del lago Titicaca y el Río Chira.

Os recomendamos su charla en TEDx:


Water resources under pressure in agricultural basins

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Risk of groundwater pollution across Africa. Level of risk is displayed from lowest (green) to highest (red). Credit: Issoufou Ouedraogo and others, Mapping the groundwater vulnerability for pollution at the pan African scale (Science of the Total Environment, February 2016)


Shallow groundwater poses pollution problem for Africa

Speed read

  • Risk calculated from factors including topography and groundwater depth
  • Water resources mainly under pressure in large agricultural basins
  • Regions along Gulf of Guinea at greatest risk of pollution

The groundwater in many of Africa’s most crowded regions lies close to the surface, making it vulnerable to pollution, a study shows.

Regions along the Gulf of Guinea are at high risk of groundwater pollution on the continent, according to a map drawn by researchers at the Université Catholique de Louvain’s Earth and Life Institute in Belgium. Much of Central Africa and some coastal lands in northwest Africa are also vulnerable, the map shows.

The study, to be published in next month’s issue of the journal Science of the Total Environment, shows that the Sahara Desert, where water reserves are deep underground and human activities are low, is the region least vulnerable to groundwater pollution on the continent.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Sustainability of Jaffna’s groundwater (Sri Lanka)

Photo credit: IWMI

Man working in a farm irrigated by sprinklers in Jaffna (photo: Hamish John Appleby/IWMI).

Achieving water sustainability in Jaffna

Groundwater is the only reliable source of fresh water for most residents of the Jaffna Peninsula. Yet, as mentioned in a recent Lindha Langa article, this vital resource is currently undergoing rapid contamination from oil, sewage, and agrochemical dumping. Saltwater intrusion has also increased due to a higher rate of groundwater extraction as indicated by the International Water Management Institute’s (IWMI) 2013 aquifer characterization study in Jaffna. The resulting damage to the aquifer is very difficult to reverse, and any efforts to do so would take many years. Immediate action is necessary to ensure the sustainability of Jaffna’s groundwater resources for future generations.

Several strategies have been proposed to accomplish this goal. None can do the entire job alone, however. According to Herath Manthrithilake, Head, Sri Lanka Development Initiative, IWMI, a combination of approaches is needed to establish a more sustainable and equitable water management system in the Jaffna region. Five feasible strategies are outlined below; the first two are current government projects in development while the final three are potentially viable approaches based on IWMI analysis.

Read the full article: IWMI


No more pollution of the soil and water, and government protection of agricultural production (IPS)

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Reducing Hunger: More Than Just Access to Food

By Emilio Godoy

“We want healthy food, we want to produce according to our traditions,” farmers and activists demanded during an international forum of experts on agriculture and the environment in this southern Italian city.

It is not necessary to go far to find an illustration of the difficulties facing farmers in achieving that goal, Dario Natale told IPS. He is a young man who lives in the area between the cities of Naples and Caserta known as “Terra dei fuochi” or land of fire, due to the chronic burning of waste, much of it toxic.

“The land is polluted, people get sick and our products are under suspicion. The government has done nothing,” complained the 24-year-old Natale, who belongs to Stop Biocidio, a group that is demanding an end to the illegal dumping or burying of waste in the area, and to the burning of garbage, which began in the 1990s.

That area in the southwest province of Campania is known for the production of vegetables, fruit and mozzarella cheese made from the milk of the domestic Italian water buffalo.


Devastating consequences of desertification in Iran (Google / Payvand Iran News)

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Desertification in Esfahan Province brings pollution problems

Source: Radio Zamaneh

Quemars Kalantari, the head of Iranian province of Esfahan, announced that the evaporation of the Gavekhoni Lagoon has turned the area into “a source of dust particles and air pollution in the province.” Kalantari told IRNA that the drying up of the Zayandeh River has had a similar effect on the lagoon, which has led to other devastating consequences.


New study blames the dry spell in Africa on pollution in the Northern Hemisphere (Google / Yahoo)

Read at : Google Alerts – images of the Africa Drought

Africa’s Worst Drought Tied to West’s Pollution

By Becky Oskin, LiveScience Staff Writer |

The biggest drought to hit the planet in the 20th century, the Sahel drought sucked Central Africa dry from the 1970s to the 1990s. The severe famines that resulted killed hundreds of thousands of people during this period and gained worldwide attention.

A new study blames the dry spell on pollution in the Northern Hemisphere, primarily from America and Europe. Tiny particles of sulfate, called aerosols, cooled the Northern Hemisphere, shifting tropical rainfall patterns southward, away from Central Africa, according to research published April 24 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

“Even changes from relatively far away spread into the tropics,” said Dargan Frierson, a study co-author and climatologist at the University of Washington in Seattle.

At the time, the cooling effect went unnoticed, overshadowed by Earth’s overall warming, Frierson said. Instead, the drought was blamed on overgrazing and poor land use practices. But in the past decade, researchers have realized that aerosol pollution plays an important role in Earth’s climate, he said. In certain parts of the atmosphere, the tiny particles reflect the sun’s light and build longer-lasting clouds, cooling the atmosphere. Not all aerosols reflect light, and the cooling from sulfate particles offsets global warming only a regional scale, because their effects are short-lived and concentrated in high-pollution areas.

“Air pollution affects climate as well, and different parts of the planet are connected in the climate system,” Frierson told LiveScience.


Combating desertification with container gardening in buckets and on straw bales (Photo WVC)
Combating desertification with container gardening in buckets and on straw bales (Photo WVC)

Waste and wasteland, a green oasis in Dakar’s bustling outskirts (New Agriculturist)

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Transforming waste and wasteland in Dakar

Once renowned for their beauty, the public gardens of Senegal’s capital, Dakar, have suffered decades of neglect. The 400 metre long HLM Patte d’Oie, like other supposedly ‘green spaces’ in the city was, until recently, an ugly combination of rubbish dump and car park. But in 2010, the site was chosen to house Dakar’s new municipal plant nursery. Construction and improvement of the site began in December 2010, quickly producing a green oasis in the city’s bustling outskirts. As part of the Sustainable Cities International (SCI) Network, Dakar is one of forty towns and cities around the world that are piloting social and technology innovations for more sustainable urban futures.

Table top gardens and a tree nursery

About one-third of the HLM Patte d’Oie area is dedicated to micro-gardening. Using groundnut and rice husks instead of soil, 145 table-top micro-gardens have been set up by a core team of 42 women. Taking care of the table gardens is a community activity; children, mothers and grandmothers cultivate over 30 species of plants, including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplants, lettuces, carrots and cabbages. The gardening project gives these women a productive activity outside their homes, helping them improve their families’ diets, reduce money spent on food and earn income from sales. Every day they come to water their crops and sell; many others come to find out information, buy vegetables or to chat, the area becoming a valuable social hub.

The rest of the area is dedicated to the trees, shrubs and flowers of the municipal plant nursery, destined for the streets and parks of Dakar, to improve air quality, lower temperatures and help to control noise pollution. Hardy, climate-tolerant species comprise the nursery’s inventory. The nursery itself is managed by a team of technicians and support staff from the municipality, but a monitoring committee has also been put in place, including four women and two young people from the district. Nursery staff provide training in nursery techniques and micro-gardening to unemployed youth and women in the area.


Greenhouse gases (GHGs) – (Ecosensorium)

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Gases that help in causing green house effect are called as green house gases (GHGs). These gases either occur naturally or are produced on earth due to human activities of burning fossil fuel and bio-mass.

One of the most abundant naturally occurring green house gases is the water vapour. Other green house gases are carbon dioxide, methane, Nitrous oxide, Trifluoromethyl sulphur pentafluoride and hydrochlorofluorocarbons. It is since 1700s, that a substantial increase in the concentration of green house gases has occurred in the atmosphere.


Accumulation of waste in the environmental media affects the environment (Ecosensorium)

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Waste and its Management

Anything which is no longer needed for use and is often thrown away carelessly may be called as waste. Wastes are generated through various sources like domestic, industrial, agricultural, commercial, municipal etc. Wastes from these sources contaminate air, water and land from where they affect the health of the biosphere.


Waste accumulated in environmental media are affecting the biosphere by direct mixing and altering their natural quality and by moving in the biosphere through bio-geo-chemical cycles and food chains operating in nature.

Accumulation of waste in the environmental media affects the environment by following ways –

·         By spoiling the landscape

·         By causing different types of pollution

·         By causing health hazard

·         By damaging terrestrial and aquatic life

The accumulation of waste in the environment causes loss to economy, interrupts bio-geo-chemical cycles, and damages historical monuments. So, it is important to reduce the existing levels of pollutants, checking them at source, fitting of pollution control devices in industries and regular monitoring of environmental quality. All these activities and many more are together called as waste management. In brief, the process of dealing with waste is called as waste management.


Pollution of Remote Lakes (Science Daily)

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Nitrogen from Humans Pollutes Remote Lakes for More Than a Century

ScienceDaily (Dec. 15, 2011) — Nitrogen derived from human activities has polluted lakes throughout the Northern Hemisphere for more than a century and the fingerprint of these changes is evident even in remote lakes located thousands of miles from the nearest city, industrial area or farm.


One of the greatest threats to the world’s drinking water supplies (Agriculture-Guide)

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Agricultural Pollution : What it is and its effects ?

Agricultural pollution is one of the greatest threats to the world’s drinking water supplies. Agricultural practices are governed by demand and supply; the world needs food crops and there are many pressures on agriculturalists to meet the demands we place upon them.

There are several causes of agricultural pollution and these are mainly the pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers used to enhance the productivity of arable land. These substances which are used to increase yields and diminish loss of crops are leached into the groundwater systems through runoff. Agricultural runoff pollution is one of the major hazards to human health. The water that is allowed back into the water supply is often contaminated by nitrates, minerals and bacteria and if this is not controlled, there is agricultural water pollution, meaning that the runoff from fields contains the harmful substances which contaminate drinking water supplies (groundwater supplies).



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