About this Special Issue
Soil pollution is one of the major threats facing terrestrial ecosystems worldwide. Recent studies at European level have shed some light on the vast dimension of the problem, identifying 324,000 polluted sites and more than 2.5 million of potentially polluted sites. Although certain natural events such as volcanic eruptions or forest fires produce substances that can be harmful to many life forms, such as ash or toxic gases, most of the pollutants reaching the soil surface come from anthropogenic sources. Among them are agricultural and forestry practices, industrial activity, mining, urban expansion, waste treatment, or tourism, which lead to a significant increase in the levels of potentially toxic elements to biota such as metal(loid)s, fertilizers, pesticides, hydrocarbons, persistent organic pollutants, or the so-called emerging pollutants (e.g., nanoparticles, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, plastics). Nonetheless, soil has the ability to filter, buffer, degrade and/or retain pollutants due to the key role played by some components such as soil organic carbon, type of clays or other minerals and organisms.
Soil pollution may hamper the biodiversity and abundance of soil biota (soil community structure), the processes they perform (soil functions) and the interactions network they establish (soil food-webs), thus altering the overall functioning of the affected ecosystems and the services they deliver. This situation may worsen within the context of current global changes, such as climate alterations, which can put extra pressure on these already stressed soil systems. Furthermore, when pollutants reach certain water bodies, such as groundwater, and/or are transferred in the food chain, soil pollution may also jeopardize human health and well-being. The Global Assessment of Soil Pollution Report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), released in June 2021, states that “the management and remediation of polluted sites is necessary to protect human and environmental health”.
This Special Issue welcomes original research manuscripts and (mini)reviews addressing the latest contributions on inorganic and organic soil pollutants; multi-stressed environments; biogeochemistry, (bio)availability and dynamics of pollutants in soils; advanced methods/techniques to tackle soil pollution diagnosis; ecotoxicological effects of pollutants and their mixture on plants and soil living organisms; effects of pollutants on soil functions and ecosystem services; environmental factors affecting fate and toxicity of soil pollutants; climate change effects in polluted soils; risk assessment of polluted soils; remediation actions/strategies in polluted soils. The Special Issue is open to laboratory, (semi)field and modeling studies.
Keywords: Anthropogenic Activities, Global Changes, Potentially Toxic Elements, Soil Biogeochemistry, Soil Ecotoxicology, Soil Remediation Strategies, Nature-Based Solutions