Jun 27, 2024

Promising news on brownfields

The United States is dotted with up to a million brownfields — industrial and commercial properties polluted with hazardous substances. These sites are disproportionally concentrated near low-income communities and communities of color, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and researchers predict that heavy rains and flooding due to climate change are likely to both spread and increase exposure to these contaminants.

For more than 15 years, Danielle Stevenson, who holds a PhD in environmental toxicology from the University of California, Riverside, has been pioneering a nature-based technique for restoring contaminated land, using fungi and native plants to break down toxins like petroleum, plastics, and pesticides into less toxic chemicals.

The usual way of dealing with tainted soil is to dig it up and cart it off to distant landfills. But that method is expensive and simply moves the problem somewhere else, Stevenson says, “typically to another state with less restrictive dumping laws.”

Read more here.