ecology & sustainability

Can hemp help "clean up" after the gold mines in South Africa?

2021-12-09 21:29:01 Tomasz Różański

South Africa is facing enormous environmental problems related to the former gold mines. Will hemp become an antidote to toxins?

Pixabay - Gold Mine
Pixabay - Gold Mine

Heavily contaminated areas of former gold mines pose a huge environmental problem in South Africa. Tiago Campbell, MSc in Environmental Sciences at Witwatersrand University, is researching land reclamation opportunities of areas near Johannesburg, Gauteng Province, that experienced over 130 years of irresponsible mining practices. Pollution is the result of mine drainage, acids and concentrations of heavy metals known to be hazardous to human health and wildlife.

Gauteng province has at least 380 abandoned mining areas containing "elevated levels of toxic and radioactive metals" including arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, copper, zinc and uranium.

Campbell's research to date has confirmed hemp to be a "heavy metal hyperaccumulator", in comparison to other plants studied for their phytoremediation potential - Indian mustard, water hyacinth, alfalfa and sunflower.

Tiago demonstrated how planting hemp in old mine heaps removes toxicity from the soil.

Campbell's initial findings were published in Hemp Today on November 11, 2021. The properties of hemp 'hyperaccumulators' were analyzed during cleanup work in the 1990s when the Ukrainian Institute of Stuff Cultivation documented the plant's ability to absorb heavy metals such as lead, nickel, cadmium, zinc and chromium in the Chernobyl nuclear fallout zone.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has estimated the cost of phytoremediation as a technique for removing hazardous heavy metals from the soil at 20-50% of the effort required by conventional methods using physical, chemical or thermal technologies.

I personally am a strong proponent of such projects and like to say that HEMP WILL SAVE THE WORLD.

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