A recent study* covered a new way to clean up brownfield sites, which are abandoned industrial or commercial lands contaminated by low concentrations of hazardous waste or pollutants.
Common contaminants of industrial sites include copper, chromium, and arsenic. A pilot-scale experiment compared the industrial-scale, long-term effects of treating these areas with iron-containing blaster sand (BS) or oxygen-scarfing granulate (OSG). The study showed that treatment with BS appeared to produce better long-term effects than treatment with OSG.
A common practice to remediate brownfield sites at this time is landfilling, which involves the excavation and burial of the contaminated soil to restrict the pollutants to a controlled area. The problem with landfilling is that it can be problematic when large numbers of sites need remediation, and the pollutants are still retained in the soil mix, which can result in a future risk of contaminant mobilization, perhaps unpredictably.
Treatments done in the laboratory and as field experiments for this study were successful with high additions of ameliorant, a substance that improves the physical condition of soil and aids in plant growth.
While the study indicated that more research is necessary to investigate long-term efficiency, these mixtures are a promising start to reduce the quantity of contaminated soil being placed in landfills or left in place due to size.
This study was published in AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment.
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