In order to assess the impacts of pollution, reliable and effective monitoring techniques are important. Pollution can be assessed and monitored by chemical analyses, toxicity tests, and field surveys. Comparison of contaminant data with an uncontaminated reference site and available databases for baseline concentrations can be useful in establishing the extent of contamination. However, this may not always be possible in the field. Chemical analyses must be used in conjunction with biological assays to reveal site contamination and associated adverse effects. Toxicological assays can also reveal information about synergistic interactions of two or more contaminants present as mixtures in soil, which cannot be measured by chemical assays alone.
Microorganisms serve as rapid detectors of environmental pollution and are thus of importance as pollution indicators. The presence of pollutants can induce alteration of microbial communities and reduction of species diversity, inhibition of certain microbial processes (organic matter breakdown, mineralization of carbon and nitrogen, enzymatic activities, etc.). A measure of the functional diversity of the bacterial flora can be assessed using ecoplates (see http://www.biolog.com/section_4.html). It has been shown that algae are especially sensitive to various organic and inorganic pollutants and thus may serve as a good indicator of pollution.181 A variety of toxicity tests involving microorganisms, invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants may be used with soil or water samples.191
Management and/or Remediation of PS Pollution
The major objective of any remediation process is to:
(1) reduce the actual or potential environmental threat; and (2) reduce unacceptable risks to man, animals, and the environment to acceptable levels.1101 Therefore, strategies to either manage and/or remediate contaminated sites have been developed largely from application of stringent regulatory measures set up to safeguard ecosystem function as well as to minimize the potential adverse effects of toxic substances on animal and human health.
The available remediation technologies may be grouped into two categories: (1) ex situ techniques that require removal of the contaminated soil or groundwater for treatment either on-site or offsite; and (2) in situ techniques that attempt to remediate without excavation of contaminated soils. Generally, in situ techniques are favored over ex situ techniques because of: (1) reduced costs due to elimination or minimization of excavation, transportation to disposal sites, and sometimes treatment itself; (2) reduced health impacts on the public or the workers; and, (3) the potential for remediation of inaccessible sites, e.g., those located at greater depths or under buildings. Although in situ techniques have been successful with organic contaminated sites, the success of in situ strategies with metal contaminants has been limited. Given that organic and inorganic contaminants often occur as a mixture, a combination of more than one strategy is often required to either successfully remediate or manage metal contaminated soils.