Value of mediation of waste and toxins
The polluted soils cause costs to landowners and business owners. The remediation of polluted soil may be very expensive and difficult, if pollution has reached the deeper soil layers.
At this situation replacing contaminated soil with clean soil is often the only practical solution. Contaminated soil is either purified by heating in extreme temperatures to burn the compounds or sealed in pods to await natural decomposition, which may take decades or centuries. Some bacteria and fungi have ability to decompose PAH- compounds and their use in bioremediation of soil is under research.
Losses in economics and recreational activities may result from plots being inadequate for land use and e.g. hiking because of pollution and damaged landscape.
Degradation of water condition reduces also possibilities of recreational activities like fishing and swimming.
Pollutants can cause damage to ecosystems by eliminating vulnerable species from the area. In aquatic ecosystems the contaminants are often bound to bottom sediments of particles in waters. Contaminated sediments are often remediated by removing polluted sediment and replacing it with unpolluted one or pouring clean sediments on the contaminated bottom area. Before dredging the sediments ratios between advantages and disadvantages of the operation must be assessed. Dredging may cause serious damage to benthos, which potentially affects the entire ecosystem. In time new benthos migrates to dredged area but it is possible population structures never revert to pre-disturbance state.
Mediation of waste and toxins as an ecosystem service improves the quality of soils and water from contaminants. However, these natural processes can recover the state of ecosystem only to some extent from the effects of pollutions and contaminants.
Residents of the contaminated areas are often exposed to volatile compounds that may cause severe health effects.
Pollution of water weakens ecosystem services significantly because drinking water is a significant pathway for contaminants and pathogens, which may also cause serious health problems.
- Updated (22.04.2016)