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5 December – World soil day and Slovenian Soil Partnership meeting

Ljubljana, 5 December 2018 – Marking the World Soil Day on 5 December 2018, the Slovenian Environment Agency hosted the Slovenian Soil Partnership meeting. The themes of this year’s meeting stem from the efforts undertaken by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN) and their guiding theme entitled "Be The Solution To Soil Pollution", with its aim of drawing the attention of the global public to the issue of soil pollution.

Soil pollution has been a problem throughout human history. With the increasing needs of the population, however, the issue is becoming more pressing, and contaminated soils are becoming a growing silent threat to people and ecosystems. We are often not even aware of the fact that our activities cause soil pollution; moreover, we also face disasters and witness negligent and irresponsible behaviour, which all results in soil contamination.

 

Contaminants are flushed through the soil to groundwater and surface waters, pollute drinking water, and finally end up in the sea; they come from a number of different sources (e.g. releases from treatment plants, leaching from landfill sites, the use of sludge from treatment facilities, atmospheric deposition due to industrial emissions, and agricultural use of fertilizers and pesticides). Heavy metal soil pollution relating to food security and safety in particular is a growing global issue and one which is also felt in Europe. The local pollution of agricultural land used to cultivate plants intended for human and animal consumption may, due to the movement of goods, pose cross-border risks to human health. Furthermore, wind and water erosion, floods, the transfer of pollutants through contaminated water, sediments, dust contribute to soil pollution and, hence, pose higher risks to human health and the environment.

 

In the context of this year’s theme of the World Soil Day, FAO-UN has developed recommendations for society and individuals on an approach to preventing and addressing soil contamination issues. The recommendations are intended for the most recognised human activities that are the main source of soil pollution, namely mining, industry, agriculture, transport and waste management. For mining, they propose that the remedial measures be included in mining plans; as regards industry, the emphasis is placed on the promotion and incorporation of environmentally friendly industrial processes, while the use of plastics in industry should be contained by preventing the excessive use of packaging materials. The agricultural sector, too, can contribute to the reduction of soil contamination through the use of sustainable soil management practices and by preventing the excessive use of plant-protection products. The recommendations relating to traffic are aimed at promoting and using sustainable transport. In waste management, the recommendations highlight the reduction of waste generation and the recycling and reuse of goods – one person’s trash being another’s treasure. The FAO-UN recommendations on the use of chemicals focus on ecotoxicological studies, innovations in the development of environmentally friendly chemicals and awareness-raising on the reduced use of chemicals. They also propose stricter environmental legislation, the provision of appropriate infrastructure and technologies for the removal of metals, pathogenic organisms and other organic pollutants in wastewater treatment plants, and raising awareness of the causes and effects of soil contamination. The recommendations also apply to individuals, who can help reduce the use of plastics or packaging materials by using reusable bags and bottles and by buying products with recycled packaging or products with as little packaging as possible.

 

The Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning, Jure Leben, drew attention to the fact that "the nutritional safety of Slovenes is inseparably connected to the protection of Slovenia’s soil", and therefore sees it as an important part of his mission to protect Slovenian soil and food.

 

Slovenian Soil Partnership Meeting

 

This year’s Slovenian Soil Partnership meeting, to be held tomorrow at the Slovenian Environment Agency, will not address all the contents covered by the FAO-UN recommendations. Instead the main emphases will be on the presentation of the results obtained through the tasks completed in the current and previous year in order to better understand the soil as a complex part of the environment. Moreover, the meeting will include presentation of ongoing activities in connection with the status of soil pollution. The meeting will also feature a presentation of the content of the poster entitled "Soil Pollution – A Hidden Danger", which is aimed at raising awareness mostly among primary and secondary school pupils.

The themes of this year’s meeting are as follows:

-  Results of the study entitled "Tla Slovenije: geokemično ozadje in zgornja meja naravne variabilnosti kemičnih elementov" ("Slovenian soils: Geochemical background and threshold values of natural variability of chemical elements"), dr. Mateja Gosar, Geological Survey of Slovenia;

-  Results of the target research project entitled "Standardi kakovosti tal v povezavi s prehajanjem potencialno nevarnih snovi v prehranjevalno verigo" ("Soil quality standards relating to the transfer of potentially hazardous substances to the food chain");

-  "Primernost tal z naravno povečanimi koncentracijami niklja za pridelavo hrane" ("Suitability of soil with naturally elevated nickel concentrations for food production"), dr. Helena Grčman, Biotechnical Faculty;

-   "Onesnaženost živil iz Slovenije s strupenimi elementi in vpliv na zdravje" ("Contamination of foodstuffs from Slovenia with toxic elements and safety considerations"), dr. Stanka Kirinčič, National Institute of Public Health;

-     "Aktivnosti povezane s stanjem tal z vidika onesnaževanja" ("Activities in connection with the status of soil pollution"), Dr Janja Turšič, Slovenian Environment Agency; and

-   Presentation of the poster entitled "Onesnaženje tal – skrita nevarnost" ("Soil Pollution – A Hidden Danger") and the Alpine Soil Partnership, dr. Borut Vrščaj, Agricultural Institute of Slovenia.

 

Also this year, you are invited to share your opinions and initiatives that in your opinion should be presented and discussed within the framework of the Slovenian Soil Partnership at the website address gp.mop@gov.si and marked with "Slovenian Soil Partnership".

 

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More information on World Soil Day:

More information on the Slovenian Soil Partnership meeting