High anthropogenic activities are constantly causing increased soil degradation and thus soil health and safety are becoming an important issue. The soil quality is deteriorating at an alarming rate in the neighborhood of smelters as a result of heavy metal deposition. Organic biowastes, also produced through anthropogenic activities, provide some solutions for remediation and management of degraded soils through their use as a substrate. Biowastes, due to their high content of organic compounds, have the potential to improve soil quality, plant productivity, and microbial activity contributing to higher humus production. Biowaste use also leads to the immobilization and stabilization of heavy metals, carbon sequestration, and release of macro and micronutrients. Increased carbon sequestration through biowaste use helps us in mitigating climate change and global warming. Soil amendment by biowaste increases soil activity and plant productivity caused by stimulation in shoot and root length, biomass production, grain yield, chlorophyll content, and decrease in oxidative stress. However, biowaste application to soils is a debatable issue due to their possible negative effect of high heavy metal concentration and risks of their accumulation in soils. Therefore, regulations for the use of biowastes as fertilizer or soil amendment must be improved and strictly employed to avoid environmental risks and the entry of potentially toxic elements into the food chain. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on the effects of biowastes on soil remediation, plant productivity, and soil organic carbon sequestration.
The commonly used and developing engineering environmental technologies do not remain neutral for an ecosystem. The deepening climate changes are generally considered as the effects of human activities. There is thus no doubt that any human interference in the environment should be comprehensively checked at the beginning for all its positive and negative aspects for the environment as well as society health. There are two different analytical tools useful in environmental management: life cycle assessment (LCA) and risk assessment (RA). The first follows the product from “from birth to the grave” summing the environmental impact at all stages of its “life” including such elements like producing, used electricity, transport and many others. LCA refers to quantification and classification of all effects at all life stages and provides direct and indirect possible environmental interactions. On the other hand, risk assessment focuses on linking stressors and its possibilities and severity. RA tools reveal environmental and human health impacts of strictly separated elements, providing insight as to which emission consists of an important threat. This paper is focused on summarizing two the most used methods and tools for supporting the decision making process in use of environmental engineering technologies. In this paper, the fundamental differences between LCA and RA and benefits from their use has been contained.
The remediation of open-cast post-mining soil remains a big challenge. Here, the post-mining soils are considered from the viewpoints of CO2 emission and carbon sequestration. We investigated the dynamic of C stock in two different post-mining areas, i.e., the limestone post-mining soil remediated with embankment (S1), and the lignite post-mining soil remediated with sewage sludge (S2). Post-mining soils under four different remediation stages were used. The study was conducted in the spring of 2021 and 2022. The aim of the study was to assess the C sequestration in sewage sludge amended and non-amended post-mining soils at differently advanced remediation techniques. We noticed an increase in or stabilization of SOC in the S1. The stabilization of SOC was observed for the soil with a higher remediation age (S1C, S1D). The remediation of the S2 resulted in the increase in SOC among the soil remediation age. For both soils, we noticed a negative CO2 emission from the soil under remediation, and the net CO2 emission rate (NCER) further decreased after one year. A positive C feedback of both remediation techniques was shown to reflect lower active carbon (POXC). We also noticed an increase in nutrient content (K, Mg), and a decrease in heavy metals content after 1 year. Such a positive relationship between the remediation of post-mining soils and C sequestration indicates a step towards climate change mitigation.
Carbon storage in soil increases along with remediation of post-mining soils. Despite many studies on the issue of carbon sequestration in soils, there is a knowledge gap in the potential and mechanisms of C sequestration in post-mining areas. This research, including nuclear magnetic resonance analysis, determines the soil organic carbon formation progress in a long-term study of limestone (S1), and lignite (S2) post-mining soil under different remediation stages. The main remediation target is reforesting; however, S2 was previously amended with sewage sludge. The study showed that for S1, the O-alkyl groups were the dominant fraction in sequestered soil. However, for S2, increased fractions of acetyl-C and aromatic C groups within remediation progress were observed. The remediation of S1 resulted in improved hydrophobicity and humification; however, the decrease in aromatic groups’ formation and C/N ratio was noted. For S2, we noticed an increase for all indicators for sequestered C stability, which has been assigned to the used sewage sludge in remediation techniques. While both post-mining soils showed huge potential for C sequestration, S2 showed much higher properties of sequestered C indicating its higher stabilization which can suggest that soils non-amended with sewage sludge (S1) require more time for stable storage of C.
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