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Journal of Hazardous Materials
Volume 417, 2021, 125990

Managing soils of environmental significance: A critical review

Anyi Niua, Chuxia Linb

School of Geography, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China.


Globally, environmentally significant soils (ESSs) mainly include acid sulfate, heavy metal(loid)-contaminated, petroleum hydrocarbon-contaminated, pesticide-contaminated, and radionuclide-contaminated soils. These soils are interrelated and have many common characteristics from an environmental management perspective. In this review, we critically evaluate the available literature on individual ESSs, aiming to identify common problems related to environmental quality/risk assessment, remediation approaches, and environmental regulation for these soils. Based on these findings, we highlight the challenges to, and possible solutions for sustainable ESS management. Contaminated land has been rapidly expanding since the first industrial revolution from the industrialized Western countries to the emerging industrialized Asia and other parts of the world. Clean-up of contaminated lands and slowdown of their expansion require concerted international efforts to develop advanced cleaner production and cost-effective soil remediation technologies in addition to improvement of environmental legislation, regulatory enforcement, financial instruments, and stakeholder involvement to create enabling environments. Two particular areas require further action and research efforts: developing a universal system for assessing ESS quality and improving the cost-effectiveness of remediation technologies. We propose an integrated framework for deriving ESS quality indicators and make suggestions for future research directions to improve the performance of soil remediation technologies.

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