A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations synthesised all the available scientific research on soil pollution and brought to the fore certain lesser know sources that have been polluting the soil for years now.
Nuclear weapon testing
Atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons and radiological events like the Chernobyl accident leave behind radionuclides in higher concentrations. “Due to the nuclear fallout after the catastrophic Chernobyl accident, radionuclides will be present in soils for centuries. More than 50 years will be needed to reach a reduction of 50 per cent of the radionuclides,” says the report titled Soil Pollution: A Hidden Reality.
These radionuclides, if deposited in the soil, can be easily absorbed by plants, making them available for further redistribution within the food chain. “After the Fukushima accident, strict monitoring of agricultural products demonstrated a fast decay in radionuclide content in vegetal products, but also discovered that radionuclides remained bioavailable in soils long after initial contamination,” says the report which was released at a global symposium.
While many consider topsoil removal as the recommended solution to limit the damage after a major radioactive accident, it may be not possible for large areas as that generates a huge amount of radioactive waste. As a result, agricultural areas with radionuclides are often abandoned for many years.