Presentation of the Results of the Analysis of the Degree of Soil Pollution by Magnetic Susceptibility in the Framework of the Ninth International Conference “Modern Trends in Science” (FMNS-2021)

The results and outcomes of the analysis of the degree of contamination of soil cover, by means of magnetic susceptibility, developed in the frame of project “Identification and Monitoring of Contaminated Soils using Innovative Methodology” with acronym (MCSoil) № CB006.1.11.023, have been presented in the frame of the Ninth International Conference “Modern Trends in Science” (FMNS-2021),  organized by the South-West University “Neofit Rilski” – Blagoevgrad. The Conference was conducted on 15th – 16th  September 2021. The event was attended by representatives of Bulgaria, Russia, Italy, Check Republic, Germany, Great Britain etc., distributed in several scientific fields: Chemistry, Physics, Geography, Ecology and Environmental Protection, Mathematics, Informatics, Technical Sciences, Methodology in Education.

The report emphasizes on the soil magnetic susceptibility properties as indicators of heavy metals pollution in Bobov dol Termal Power plant area. The focus of discussion is on the method for magnetic susceptibility screening for implementation of a new methodology for identification and monitoring of contaminated soils.

Soil testing and monitoring carried out during the period of project’s implementation was fulfiled using a specialized and up-to-day equipment for field measurements, which is designed for rapid, reliable and cost-effective assessment of the magnetic susceptibility, consistent with the natural soil conditions in the both regions. The exact methodology which is used for assessment of the pollution was presented and discussed as well.

The pilot tool for soils samples collection, processing, analyzing and data representation, is based on innovative geophysical methods for cost-effective, sensitive and fast evaluation of the environmental quality of soils. The main advantage of this new methodology is its high sensitivity and possibility for smart adaptation of the method according to the respective site and the existing problem. Also, this method is much faster and cheaper than the traditionally used chemical analysis.

Project „Identification and Monitoring of Contaminated Soils using Innovative Methodology“ – MCSoil has reached its final stage of implementation

The implementation of the project started in July 2019. The project is a joint initiative of the RES Cluster and association Center for Medical Herbs and Berries “AMBROZIJA” – Republic of North Macedonia and is being implemented under the IPA CBC Programme between Republic of Bulgaria and Republic of North Macedonia 2014-2020 (CCI No 2014TC16I5CB006).

The project‘s initiatives were aimed at assessing the specific needs of the region about the mapping of existing and potential soil contamination. The main project activities were aimed at the environmental protection through identification and monitoring of contaminated areas and nature protected areas using an innovative methodology. The pilot tool for soils samples collection, processing, analyzing and data representation, is based on innovative geophysical methods for cost-effective, sensitive and fast evaluation of the environmental quality of soils.

The main advantage of this new methodology is its high sensitivity and possibility for smart adaptation of the method according to the respective site and the existing problem. Also, this method is much faster and cheaper than the traditionally used chemical analysis.

All of that has contributed to the increase of the awareness of the representatives of the target groups and other stakeholders about the state of the soil resources in the cross-border region of the Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia, as well as it has impacted on improving of the resource management efficiency with regard to soils

The project team of association “Renewable Energy Sources Cluster” express their gratitude on the interest and active involvement of the partners and the participants in the project’s initiatives throughout the whole period of the implementation of project „MCSoil”.

Final Conference of Project MCSoil

Presentation of the results from the application of innovative methodology for identification and monitoring of contaminated soils

Location: Pehcevo, North Macedonia

  Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria

Date:  09-10.10.2020

We are pleased to invite you to the Final Conference of the project Identification and monitoring of contaminated soils using innovative methodology “- MCSoil, that have been implemented by the Association Ambrozija from Pehcevo, in partnership with the Cluster for Renewable Energy Sources from Blagoevgrad, with financial support of the EU – Interreg IPA Cross-Border Cooperation Program, Bulgaria-North Macedonia CCI № 2014TC16I5CB006.

The results of the project activities and the application of an innovative methodology for monitoring of polluted soils will be presented at the Final Conference.

The event will be held on October 9 and 10, 2020, starting at 11:00 AM in Gogov Hotel in Pehchevo.

Due to the restrictive measures, the participants from Bulgaria will follow the event at the same time in Korona Hotel in Blagoevgrad, with established online communication between the two locations.

During the realization of the event, all measures for protection against spread and prevention of Covid 19 that are in force will be implemented, in accordance with the current legislation in the Republic of North Macedonia and in the Republic of Bulgaria.

Conducted specialized training on the subject „Introduction of an Innovative Methodology for Identification and Monitoring of Contaminated Soils and the Results Achieved from its Implementation“

Association “Renewable Energy Sources Cluster” organized specialized training on the subject „Introduction of an Innovative Methodology for Identification and Monitoring of Contaminated Soils and the Results Achieved from its Implementation“. The training was conducted in the frame of three consecutive days in the period from 18 to 20 September 2020, in the „Murite“ Hotel – Razlog.

The event was organized in the frame of project „Identification and Monitoring of Contaminated Soils using Innovative Methodology (MCSoil)“, implemented by the „Renewable Energy Sources cluster“ – Blagoevgrad, in partnership with the „Center for Medical Herbs and Berries – Ambrozija“ from the Republic of North Macedonia. The project is implemented with the financial support of the European Union through the INTERREG-IPA CBC Programme, CCI No. 2014TC16I5CB006.

The specialized training was directed to representatives of the responsible institutions for environmental and soil protection at local and regional level in the Republic of Bulgaria, ecological organizations, NGO’s, students and other stakeholders. The main objective was the introduction of an innovative methodology for identification and monitoring of contaminated soils as the focus of the training will be the achieved results from its implementation. During the event, a demonstration of the practical applicability of the magnetic susceptibility system was performed.

In state of emergency over Covid-19 declared in the Republic of Bulgaria, the training was conducted in compliance with the preventive measures and recommendations of the authorized health authorities, against the spread of the Coronavirus. In this relation, the participants were provided with personal protective means, such as single-use facemasks, disinfectants, etc.

More information about project „Identification and Monitoring of Contaminated Soils using Innovative Methodology (MCSoil) “, the project initiatives and interesting news on the topic, are available on the present official web site of the project, as well on the official  Facebook  page of the project.

Invitation for participation in specialized training in innovative method for identification and monitoring of contaminated soils and results of its application

A training on presentation of the innovative method for identification and monitoring of contaminated soils, as well as the results of its application within the project activities will be hold within the project Identification and monitoring of contaminated soils using innovative methodology “- MCSoil implemented by the Association Ambrosia, in partnership with the Cluster for Renewable Energy Sources. The project is implemented with financial support from European Union  trough through the INTERREG-IPA CBC Programme Bulgaria-Northern Macedonia.

The training will be held in the period from 24 to 26 September 2020, in the hotel “Gogov” in Pehchevo.

During the realization of the training, all measures for protection against spread and prevention from Covid – 19 that are in force will be observed, in accordance with the current legislation in the Republic of North Macedonia.

Please confirm your participation on the training no later than September 22, 2020 by filling out the electronic application at the following link https://forms.gle/tK8DV1WQTrV8mbi5A.

Association Ambrozija

Pehchevo, Republic of North Macedonia

Specialized Training: „Introduction of an Innovative Methodology for Identification and Monitoring of Contaminated Soils and the Results Achieved from its Implementation“

It is our pleasure to invite you to participate in the specialized training „Introduction of an Innovative Methodology for Identification and Monitoring of Contaminated Soils and the Results Achieved from its Implementation“. The event is organized in the frame of project „Identification and Monitoring of Contaminated Soils using Innovative Methodology (MCSoil)“, implemented by the „Renewable Energy Sources cluster“ – Blagoevgrad, in partnership with the „Center for Medical Herbs and Berries – Ambrozija“ from the Republic of North Macedonia. The project is implemented with the financial support of the European Union through the INTERREG-IPA CBC Programme, CCI No. 2014TC16I5CB006.

The specialized training is directed to representatives of the responsible institutions for environmental and soil protection at local and regional level in the Republic of Bulgaria, ecological organizations, NGO’s, students and other stakeholders. The main objective is introduction of an innovative methodology for identification and monitoring of contaminated soils as the focus of the training will be the achieved results from its implementation. During the event, a demonstration of the practical applicability of the magnetic susceptibility system will be made.

The training will be conducted in the frame of three consecutive days in the period from 18 to 20 September 2020, starting at 13:00 in the „Murite“ Hotel – Razlog.

In state of emergency over Covid-19 declared in the Republic of Bulgaria, the training will be conducted in compliance with the preventive measures and recommendations of the authorized health authorities, against the spread of the Coronavirus. In this relation, the participants will be provided with personal protective means, such as single-use facemasks, disinfectants, etc. Representatives of the organizers of the event will be observing for the participants to keep a safe distance from one another as well as for the regular disinfection in the hall.

More information about the conduction of the event as well as contact information for communication with the organizers, is available in the attached invitation and agenda.

Attachment:

  1. Agenda

Soil contaminants

What are soil contaminants?

Soil is a complex mixture of minerals, organic material, water, and various life forms. In its original state, soil was an uncontaminated substance covering the earth. But humans have intentionally and accidentally poured harmful products onto it in some areas. The waste can hurt the soil and possibly human, plant, and animal health.

By definition, any substance in the soil that exceeds naturally-occurring levels and poses human health risks is a soil contaminant. As an example, arsenic naturally occurs in some soils. But if a person sprays certain pesticides on their yard, that could cause soil contamination. Lead is also very dangerous but occurs naturally in some soils. It was used in gasoline until 1989 and can still be found contaminating soils today.

The biggest risks for soil contamination are in urban areas and former industrial sites. Common contaminants in urban soils include pesticides, petroleum products, radon, asbestos, lead, chromated copper arsenate and creosote. In urban areas, soil contamination is largely caused by human activities. Some examples are manufacturing, industrial dumping, land development, local waste disposal, and excessive pesticide or fertilizer use. Heavy car and truck traffic can contaminate soil, and so can a single car. When soil is contaminated with these substances, it can hurt the native environment.

Where and how much contamination is added to soils will largely determine how that contamination spreads throughout an area. The type of soil will also play a role in its distribution.

How are people exposed to soil contaminants?

There are several ways humans can be exposed to soil contaminants. The most common are:

  1. Ingesting soil

Though it might seem odd to eat soil, contaminants can be ingested in a variety of ways. Young children may be particularly susceptible as they play in bare soil. Contaminated soil dust may also affect our food supply. Lavishly washing food products delivered from soil is very important. The biggest risk of ingesting soil happens when the soil is left bare. Covering soil with grass or other plants and mulching well reduces the risk of contamination. If people are eating outdoors near windy soil on a windy day, airborne contaminants may land on food before it is eaten.

  • Breathing volatiles and dust

When soils are uncovered, small particles can become airborne with wind for example. Construction or demolition work, mining operations, or poor landscaping efforts can make soil dust. Breathing in contaminated dust may cause physical or chemical damage to humans. For example, asbestos fibers can puncture the lungs. Chemicals such as lead can hurt the nervous system, including the brain.

  • Absorbing through skin

Contaminants may also be absorbed through the skin. Creosote is a common material used to preserve wood in the United States. This complex mixture of chemicals can leach out of treated wood and contaminate the soil. If creosote-contaminated soils are touched, then over time the skin may blister, peel or severely redden.

  • Eating food grown in contaminated soil

If you grow food in contaminated soil, there is a risk that your food will also be contaminated. Many housing developments and community garden are established in areas that served as industrial or manufacturing areas where contaminants may be present. Many vegetables and herbs can absorb contaminants as they grow. That puts you at risk if you eat them. Also, vegetables and herbs can have soil dust on them. Without proper washing, contaminants remain. Even when gardens or farms may be located on uncontaminated soils, the immediate proximity of contaminated sites, there exist a chance the contamination to be transferred to the food products by the wind.

Sites of special concern

Industrial and manufacturing sites

Industrial and manufacturing sites often have a range of contaminants polluting their soils. The type of contaminant will depend on what the factory was producing. Contamination can occur when chemicals leak out onto the soil. All are dangerous to human safety on their own. When combined, they may react with each other to create even more toxic compounds. Containment and remediation of these areas are costly, technically complex, and logistically challenging.

Landfills, junkyards and waste disposal sites

Landfills, junkyards and waste disposal sites pose high risk of soil contamination, much like industrial sites. These areas often contain a large mix of contaminant types like lead, arsenic, and petroleum products. All are dangerous to human safety on their own. When combined, they may react with each other to create even more toxic compounds. Containment and remediation of these areas are costly, technically complex, and logistically challenging.

Highway corridors, parking lots, areas of heavy traffic

Аreas with high concentrations of vehicles pose a lot of contaminant risks, both from emissions and fluid leaks. For example, presence of lead can be high in areas with heavy traffic emissions, and petroleum or oil leaks on roads or parking lots can be washed onto nearby soils.

Household sites

Household sites may not be an obvious site for soil contamination. But soils can get contaminated during housing construction. Petroleum products from the construction vehicles can leak and paint may spill. Homeowners may overuse pesticides or herbicides which inadvertently contaminate their soil.

Former farmland with build-up of contaminants

In the United States, many pesticides were composed of lead-arsenate between 1910 and 1950. At the time researchers and farmers didn’t know that lead caused health problems. As a result, lead is found in the soil of remnant farms today. In addition, there has been extensive development and production of herbicides since the 1950s. These chemicals need to be used properly; improper use can harm the soil, plant, and even human health. The use of high-load fertilizer applications may leave contamination in soils, depending on the crop and fertilizer type used.

The full text is available here.

Natural-Geographical Analysis and Socio-Economic Characteristics of the Cross-Border Area in the Republic of North Macedonia

Within the project “Identification and monitoring of polluted soils using innovative methodology” (MCSoil), implemented by association “Renewable Energy Sources Cluster” – Lead Partner and association “Ambrozija” – Project Partner, a Country Assessment Report on the situation in the cross-border area in the Republic of North Macedonia was prepared, on the basis of relevant data on the state of geodiversity and geological heritage of the eastern part of the Republic of North Macedonia, pedology, as a basis and scientific basis for further research, as well as analysis of geological and hydrographical data and socio-economic characteristics of the area. The main purpose of the analysis report is to detect appropriate sites for the implementation of innovative methodology for identification and monitoring of contaminated soil through magnetic susceptibility values.

The report is based on the state of geodiversity and geo-heritage of the eastern part of the Republic of North Macedonia and other components of nature (biodiversity and landscape diversity), which are the scientific basis for developing an ecological strategy for nature protection. In order to protect and preserve the ecological framework, one of the sites should be in a polluted area, and another location should be a clean ecological environment. The two specific locations are the territory around the old hydropower plant at the mine Zletovo in Probistip as a polluted area and Ploce Lipotelmi as a natural reserve or protected area.

The presence of heavy metals in soils is a serious environmental problem that directly affects human health and life and can be the result of various factors. As a result of the analysis and given the fact that the old hydropower plant in Probistip has been repeatedly assessed by experts as the second most important environmental threat in the country, this location is appropriate to use as a test site for the development of a new methodological approach.

The report is a foundation from which objects of interest for nature conservation should be identified, some of which should be re-examined in order to establish a definitive picture of the relevant objects and territories of interest in nature conservation in the eastern part of the Republic of North Macedonia.

The full text of the report is available here.

Key Facts We Should Know About Soil

Soil is the fragile, friable layer of the earth’s crust that covers the continents, between the surface and the bedrock. It is formed by mineral particles, organic matter, water, air and living organisms. It is the interface between earth, air and water and hosts most of the biosphere.

Soil provides us with food, biomass and raw materials, serves as a platform for human activities, our landscape and our heritage and plays a central role as a habitat and gene pool. It stores, filters and transforms substances such as water, nutrients and carbon.

Soil is a key, largely non-renewable and very complex natural resource and yet it is increasingly damaged by certain human practices.

Here are some key facts  about soil

1. Soil makes up the outermost layer of our planet and is formed from rocks and decaying plants and animals.

2. Soil has varying amounts of organic matter (resulting from the decomposition of living organisms), minerals and nutrients.

3. It helps clean the water we drink and the air that we breathe — for free!

4. An average soil sample is 45 % minerals, 25 % water, 25 % air and 5 % organic matter. Different-sized mineral particles, such as sand, silt and clay, give soil its texture.

5. Topsoil is the most productive soil layer.

6. Ten tonnes of topsoil spread evenly over a hectare is only as thick as a one Euro coin.

7. Natural processes can take more than 500 years to form two centimetres of topsoil.

8. In some cases, five tonnes of animal life can live in one hectare of soil.

9. Fungi and bacteria help break down organic matter in the soil.

10. Earthworms digest organic matter, recycle nutrients and make the surface soil richer.

11. Roots loosen the soil, allowing oxygen to penetrate. This benefits animals living in the soil. They also hold soil together and help prevent erosion.

12. A fully functioning soil reduces the risk of floods and protects underground water supplies by neutralising or filtering out potential pollutants and storing as much as 3 750 tonnes of water per hectare.

13. Soil scientists have identified over 10 000 different types of soil in Europe.

14. Soils worldwide contain 1 550 billion tonnes of organic carbon (to be compared with an atmospheric carbon pool of 760 billion tonnes and 560 billion tonnes of carbon in living organisms and plants).

15. Soil captures about 20 % of the world’s manmade carbon dioxide emissions.

 

Source: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/soil/pdf/factsheet_2007_en.pdf

Restoring soils could remove up to ‘5.5bn tonnes’ of greenhouse gases every year

Replenishing and protecting the world’s soil carbon stores could help to offset up to 5.5bn tonnes of greenhouse gases every year, a study finds.

This is just under the current annual emissions of the US, the world’s second largest polluter after China. Around 40% of this carbon offsetting potential would come from protecting existing soil carbon stores in the world’s forests, peatlands and wetlands, the authors say. In many parts of the world, such soil-based “natural climate solutions” could come with co-benefits for wildlife, food production and water retention, the lead author tells Carbon Brief.

Ground up

The top metre of the world’s soils contains three times as much carbon as the entire atmosphere, making it a major carbon sink alongside forests and oceans. Soils play a key role in the carbon cycle by soaking up carbon from dead plant matter. Plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and this is passed to the ground when dead roots and leaves decompose. But human activity, in particular agriculture, can cause carbon to be released from the soil at a faster rate than it is replaced. Few countries record data on soil-carbon loss directly from agriculture, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent assessment report, making it difficult to understand the degree to which soil carbon losses are contributing to climate change. The new analysis, published in Nature Sustainability, takes a look at how protecting and replenishing soils – both in agricultural and natural landscapes – could instead help to combat warming. If finds that, if techniques to improve soil carbon were rolled out at the maximum assumed level worldwide, they could remove up to 5.5bn tonnes of CO2e a year.

Counting carbon

For the analysis, the authors built on an earlier study which looked at the global greenhouse gas removal potential of all “natural climate solutions”. The term is used to describe a range of negative emissions techniques that aim to enhance the ability of natural ecosystems to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. The research finds that a quarter of all the greenhouse gas removal ability of natural climate solutions comes from soil-based techniques, such as protecting and restoring forest soils, peatlands and wetlands.

The chart below shows the greenhouse gas removal potential of various soil-based natural climate solutions. The figures are shown in billion tonnes of CO2e per year.

The research shows that the largest greenhouse gas removal potential comes from protecting existing forests and reforestation. This technique could offset 1.2bn tonnes of CO2e a year, when only forest soil carbon is considered.

Forests soils are a globally important carbon store. They can be particularly carbon-rich because they absorb high densities of dead plant matter. Forest soils also play a significant role in absorbing methane. Another soil technique with large potential is “biochar”, according to the research. Biochar is a carbon-rich charcoal which, when sprinkled on land, can boost soil carbon storage.

Peatlands are carbon-dense boggy environments made up of partially decomposing organic matter. They cover just 3% of the world’s surface, but hold up to a third of its soil carbon. Restoring wetlands could also have an important role in removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, according to the research. Like peatlands, wetlands contain water-logged carbon-rich soils. A recent study found the Amazon’s wetlands are twice as carbon rich as its rainforests, with soils holding the majority of this carbon.

Co-benefits and costs

The study also explores the likely costs and co-benefits of each soil-based natural climate solution.

The chart below shows the proportion of CO2e removal for each technique that would be low-cost (black), cost-effective (grey) and not currently cost-effective (white). The techniques are grouped into three categories: forests (top), agriculture and grasslands (middle) and wetlands (bottom). A colour key indicates if the technique is likely to have co-benefits for air (yellow), biodiversity (green), water (blue) and food (red).

The chart shows how avoiding the degradation of forests, peatlands and wetlands would be the most low-cost way to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale.

However, it is worth noting that ecosystems still face major threats in many parts of the world. For example, recent satellite data shows that Amazon deforestation could reach a record high in 2020. Meanwhile, the world’s largest tropical peatland is being threatened by a plan to drill for oil.

The full text is available at: https://www.carbonbrief.org/restoring-soils-could-remove-up-to-5-5bn-tonnes-of-greenhouse-gases-every-year

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