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Special Issue "Heavy Metals in Agricultural Soils: Sources, Releases and Environmental Impacts"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Alexis Laurent

Division for Quantitative Sustainability Assessment, Department of Management Engineering, Technical University of Denmark
Website | E-Mail
Interests: environmental impact assessment; pollutant release inventories; national and sectoral footprints; life cycle assessment; environmental sustainability
Guest Editor
Dr. Mikołaj Owsianiak

Division for Quantitative Sustainability Assessment, Department of Management Engineering, Technical University of Denmark
Website | E-Mail
Interests: terrestrial ecotoxicity of metals; fate and behaviour of soil contaminants; biomass-based products and bioenergy; life cycle assessment

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

As part of the 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), one of them has a strong focus on achieving food security while promoting sustainable agriculture (SDG nr. 2). The challenge is therefore to “sustainably increase agricultural productivity”—one of the proposed targets under that goal. This increased agricultural productivity must, therefore, be done while reducing their associated impacts on ecosystems and human health. Current agricultural practice, however, may cause important damage, stemming from the intentional and unintentional emission of toxic substances, like metals present in animal feed or in pesticides, fertilisers and manure applied to land. Owing to the specific fate mechanisms of metals (e.g., no degradation, speciation), a fraction of those substances may, thus, end up in food or drinking water, thus causing potential impacts on human health, or in natural environments, where they may lead to impacts on freshwater, terrestrial and marine ecosystems. More research is therefore needed to assess, monitor, and decrease these impacts in current and forthcoming agricultural practices.

For this Special Issue, we therefore invite researchers to submit manuscripts addressing environmental sustainability aspects related to heavy metals in agricultural soils. Taking a holistic perspective in this topic, the ambition of this Special Issue is to cover all angles, starting from the quantification of heavy metals applied or ending up (intentionally or unintentionally) at agricultural soil and stemming from a large variety of sources (e.g., feed for animals, fertilizers, manure, pesticides, atmospheric deposition) to the eventual quantification of damage to human health and ecosystems resulting from these releases. Envisioned contributions include studies encompassing some or all the following topics: The characterization of heavy metals sources, the building of release inventories at different spatial scales, the fate and distribution of the metals in agricultural soils and their subsequent impact pathways leading to damages to ecosystems and human health. Both methodological studies (e.g., for environmental sustainability assessment) and relevant case studies are encouraged, including those investigating the differentiation of the above topics in time (future-oriented studies, dynamic assessments, long-term emissions, long-term impacts, etc.) and space (global assessment, comparisons across countries or regions, etc.).

Dr. Alexis Laurent
Dr. Mikołaj Owsianiak
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • metals
  • impact assessment
  • release quantification
  • inventory modelling
  • speciation,
  • human health impacts
  • ecosystem impacts
  • environmentally-sustainable agriculture
  • pesticides
  • fertilizer
  • manure
  • animal feed

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Regionalized Terrestrial Ecotoxicity Assessment of Copper-Based Fungicides Applied in Viticulture
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2522; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072522
Received: 8 June 2018 / Revised: 11 July 2018 / Accepted: 17 July 2018 / Published: 19 July 2018
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Abstract
Life cycle assessment has been recognized as an important decision-making tool to improve the environmental performance of agricultural systems. Still, there are certain modelling issues related to the assessment of their impacts. The first is linked to the assessment of the metal terrestrial
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Life cycle assessment has been recognized as an important decision-making tool to improve the environmental performance of agricultural systems. Still, there are certain modelling issues related to the assessment of their impacts. The first is linked to the assessment of the metal terrestrial ecotoxicity impact, for which metal speciation in soil is disregarded. In fact, emissions of metals in agricultural systems contribute significantly to the ecotoxic impact, as do copper-based fungicides applied in viticulture to combat downy mildew. Another issue is linked to the ways in which the intrinsic geographical variability of agriculture resulting from the variation of management practices, soil properties, and climate is addressed. The aim of this study is to assess the spatial variability of the terrestrial ecotoxicity impact of copper-based fungicides applied in European vineyards, accounting for both geographical variability in terms of agricultural practice and copper speciation in soil. This first entails the development of regionalized characterization factors (CFs) for the copper used in viticulture and then the application of these CFs to a regionalized life-cycle inventory that considers different management practices, soil properties, and climates in different regions, namely Languedoc-Roussillon (France), Minho (Portugal), Tuscany (Italy), and Galicia (Spain). There are two modelling alternatives to determine metal speciation in terrestrial ecotoxicity: (a) empirical regression models; and (b) WHAM 6.0, the geochemical speciation model applied according to the soil properties of the Harmonized World Soil Database (HWSD). Both approaches were used to compute and compare regionalized CFs with each other and with current IMPACT 2002+ CF. The CFs were then aggregated at different spatial resolutions—global, Europe, country, and wine-growing region—to assess the uncertainty related to spatial variability at the different scales and applied in the regionalized case study. The global CF computed for copper terrestrial ecotoxicity is around 3.5 orders of magnitude lower than the one from IMPACT 2002+, demonstrating the impact of including metal speciation. For both methods, an increase in the spatial resolution of the CFs translated into a decrease in the spatial variability of the CFs. With the exception of the aggregated CF for Portugal (Minho) at the country level, all the aggregated CFs derived from empirical regression models are greater than the ones derived from the method based on WHAM 6.0 within a range of 0.2 to 1.2 orders of magnitude. Furthermore, CFs calculated with empirical regression models exhibited a greater spatial variability with respect to the CFs derived from WHAM 6.0. The ranking of the impact scores of the analyzed scenarios was mainly determined by the amount of copper applied in each wine-growing region. However, finer spatial resolutions led to an impact score with lower uncertainty. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Potential Sources of Anthropogenic Copper Inputs to European Agricultural Soils
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2380; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072380
Received: 8 June 2018 / Revised: 26 June 2018 / Accepted: 5 July 2018 / Published: 9 July 2018
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Abstract
In the European Union (EU), copper concentration in agricultural soil stems from anthropogenic activities and natural sources (soil and geology). This manuscript reports a statistical comparison of copper concentrations at different levels of administrative units, with a focus on agricultural areas. Anthropogenic sources
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In the European Union (EU), copper concentration in agricultural soil stems from anthropogenic activities and natural sources (soil and geology). This manuscript reports a statistical comparison of copper concentrations at different levels of administrative units, with a focus on agricultural areas. Anthropogenic sources of diffuse copper contamination include fungicidal treatments, liquid manure (mainly from pigs), sewage sludge, atmospheric deposition, mining activities, local industrial contamination and particles from car brakes. Sales of fungicides in the EU are around 158,000 tonnes annually, a large proportion of which are copper based and used extensively in vineyards and orchards. Around 10 million tonnes of sewage sludge is treated annually in the EU, and 40% of this (which has a high copper content) is used as fertilizer in agriculture. In the EU, 150 million pigs consume more than 6.2 million tonnes of copper through additives in their feed, and most of their liquid manure ends up in agricultural soil. These three sources (sales of fungicides, sewage sludge and copper consumption for pigs feed) depend much on local traditional farming practices. Recent research towards replacing copper spraying in vineyards and policy developments on applying sewage and controlling the feed given to pigs are expected to reduce copper accumulation in agricultural soil. Full article
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Graphical abstract

Open AccessArticle Adsorption and Desorption of Cd by Soil Amendment: Mechanisms and Environmental Implications in Field-Soil Remediation
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2337; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072337
Received: 7 June 2018 / Revised: 28 June 2018 / Accepted: 3 July 2018 / Published: 5 July 2018
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Abstract
In China, 1/5 of the total farmland area is Cd-enriched; the wide occurrence of Cd-contaminated soil in China has already posed significant public health risk and deserves immediate action. In situ immobilization has been regarded as one of the most promising agricultural extension-technologies
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In China, 1/5 of the total farmland area is Cd-enriched; the wide occurrence of Cd-contaminated soil in China has already posed significant public health risk and deserves immediate action. In situ immobilization has been regarded as one of the most promising agricultural extension-technologies for remediating low-to-medium levels of heavy metal contaminated land in China. Although extensive research has been conducted to examine the effectiveness of different amendments on remediation of Cd-contaminated soils, the influence of changed soil properties on secondary release of Cd from Cd-amendment to soil is rarely known. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of four soil amendments (denoted as Ad1, Ad2, Ad3 and Ad4, their main components being clay mineral, base mineral, humus and biochar, respectively) on reducing Cd availability and increasing Cd stability in soil. The maximum adsorption capacity of test amendments on Cd ranged from 7.47 to 17.67 mg g−1. The characterizations of test amendments before and after Cd loading provided the evidence that surface precipitation and ion exchange were the main reasons for Ad1 and Ad2 to adsorb Cd, and complexation was for Ad3 and Ad4. In addition, there was significant increase in the desorption percentages of Cd from amendments as pH decreased (from 7 to 1) or ion strength increased (from 0 to 0.2 M). Comparatively, Ad3 and Ad4 could be more effective for in situ immobilization of Cd in contaminated soils, due to their high adsorption capacities (12.82 and 17.67 mg g−1, respectively) and low desorption percentages (4.46–6.23%) at pH from 5 to 7 and ion strengths from 0.01 to 0.1 mol L−1. The results obtained in this study could provide a guideline for in-situ remediation of Cd polluted field-soil in China. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Effect of Cadmium, Copper and Lead on the Growth of Rice in the Coal Mining Region of Quang Ninh, Cam-Pha (Vietnam)
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1758; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061758
Received: 3 May 2018 / Revised: 18 May 2018 / Accepted: 23 May 2018 / Published: 27 May 2018
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Abstract
The goal of this study was to quantify the mobility and partitioning of trace elements originating from mine waste rocks derived from open pit coal extraction activities. The results showed that native rice plants were adapted to growing in metal contaminated soils, posing
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The goal of this study was to quantify the mobility and partitioning of trace elements originating from mine waste rocks derived from open pit coal extraction activities. The results showed that native rice plants were adapted to growing in metal contaminated soils, posing a severe health risk to local population. Sequential extraction procedures and bulk soil chemical analyses both suggest enrichment of Cd, Pb and Cu in rice paddy soils. Lead was shown to be evenly partitioned among all mineral and organic phases. Copper was associated with carbonates and organic matter. Smaller fractions of Pb and Cu were also bound to Fe and Mn oxides. Only 25% of Cd, 9% of Pb and 48% of Cu were associated with the exchangeable fraction, considered mobile and thus bioavailable for plant uptake. Effects of Cd, Cu and Pb on local Cam Pha Nep cai Hoa vang, and control Asia Italian rice, showed marked differences in growth. The local Vietnamese variety grew close to control values, even upon exposure to higher trace metal concentrations. Whereas the development of the control rice species was significantly affected by increasing trace metal concentrations. This result suggests toxic trace elements accumulation in the edible parts of crops. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Experimental Analysis of Soil and Mandarin Orange Plants Treated with Heavy Metals Found in Oilfield-Produced Wastewater
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1493; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051493
Received: 4 April 2018 / Revised: 2 May 2018 / Accepted: 6 May 2018 / Published: 9 May 2018
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Abstract
Despite a declining trend, California remains a significant oil-producing state. For every barrel of crude oil, an average of 15 barrels of oilfield produced water (OPW) is generated, some of which is used to boost freshwater sources for crop irrigation in the agriculturally
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Despite a declining trend, California remains a significant oil-producing state. For every barrel of crude oil, an average of 15 barrels of oilfield produced water (OPW) is generated, some of which is used to boost freshwater sources for crop irrigation in the agriculturally important Central Valley. OPW is known to contain salts, metals, hydrocarbons, alkylphenols, naturally radioactive materials, biocides, and other compounds from drilling and production processes. Less is known about the potential uptake and accumulation of these compounds in crops and soil irrigated with OPW. In this study, 23 potted mandarin orange plants were irrigated two to three times weekly (depending on season) with water containing three different concentrations of the known OPW heavy metals barium, chromium, lead, and silver. Seven sets of samples of soil and leaves and 11 fruits were collected and processed using microwave-assisted digestion (EPA Method 3051A). Processed samples were analyzed using inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES). Analysis of variance (ANOVA) and covariance (ANCOVA) coupled with Tukey’s honest significant difference test were used to examine the effects of metal concentrations in the irrigation water and number of watering days, respectively, on the metal concentrations in the soil, leaf, and fruit samples. Accumulation of barium in soil and leaves was strongly positively associated with sample and number of watering days, increasing nearly 2000-fold. Lead also showed an upward trend, increasing up to 560-fold over the baseline level. Total chromium showed an increase in the soil that tapered off, but less consistent results in the leaves and fruit. The silver results were more volatile, but also indicated at least some level of accumulation in the tested media. The smallest absolute accumulation was observed for chromium. Concentrations in the fruit were highest in the peel, followed by pith and juice. Accumulation of all heavy metals was generally highest in the soil and plants that received the highest irrigation water concentration. Considering the potential for adverse human health effects associated with ingesting soluble barium contained in food and drinking water, and to a lesser extent chromium and lead, the study signals that it is important to conduct further research into the accessibility and bioavailability of the tested heavy metals in the soil and whether they pose risks to consumers. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Change of the Extractability of Cadmium Added to Different Soils: Aging Effect and Modeling
Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 885; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10030885
Received: 15 January 2018 / Revised: 12 March 2018 / Accepted: 16 March 2018 / Published: 20 March 2018
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Abstract
Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) is known to be a chelating agent and has been widely used for estimating the total extractable metals in soil. The effect of aging on EDTA-extractable cadmium (Cd) was investigated in five different soils at three Cd concentrations incubated for
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Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) is known to be a chelating agent and has been widely used for estimating the total extractable metals in soil. The effect of aging on EDTA-extractable cadmium (Cd) was investigated in five different soils at three Cd concentrations incubated for 180 days. The EDTA-extractable Cd rapidly decreased after incubated during 30–60 days, followed by slow processes, and for 90 days the EDTA-extractable Cd tended to be stable. The decrease in EDTA-extractable Cd may be due to precipitation/nucleation processes, diffusion of Cd into the micropores/mesopores, and occlusion within organic matter in soils. A semi-mechanistic model to predict the extractability of Cd during incubation, based on processes of Cd precipitation/nucleation, diffusion, and occlusion within organic matter, was developed and calibrated. The results showed that the processes of micropore/mesopore diffusion were predominant processes affecting the extractability of Cd added to soils, and were slow. However, the proportions of the processes of precipitation/nucleation and occlusion within organic matter to the non-EDTA-extractable Cd added to soils were only 0.03–21.0% and 0.41–6.95%, respectively. The measured EDTA-extractable Cd from incubated soils were in good agreement with those predicted by the semi-mechanistic model (R2 = 0.829). The results also indicated that soil pH, organic matter, and incubation time were the most important factors affecting Cd aging. Full article
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