Sampling for Non-Point Source Pollution

The sampling requirements of NPSP are quite different from those of the point source contamination. Typically, the sampling is required to give a good estimate of the mean level of pollution rather than to delineate areas of pollution. In such a situation, sampling is typically carried out on a regular square or a triangular grid. Furthermore, gains may be possible by using composite sampling.141 However, if the pollution is patchy, other strategies may be used. One such strategy is to divide the area into remediation units, and to sample each of these. The possibility of movement of the pollutant from the soil to some receptor (or asset) is assessed, and the potential harm is quantified. This process requires an analysis of the bioavailability of the pollutant, pathway analysis, and the toxicological risk. The risk analysis is then assessed and decisions are then made as to how the risk should be managed.

Management and/or Remediation of Non-Point Source Pollution

The treatment strategies used for managing NPSP are generally those that modify the soil properties to decrease the bioavailable contaminant fraction. This is particularly so in the rural agricultural environment where soil-plant transfer of contaminants is of greatest concern. Soil amendments commonly used include those that change the ion-exchange characteristics of the colloid particles and those that enhance the ability of soils to sorb contaminants. An example of NPSP management includes the application of lime to immobilize metals because the solubility of most heavy metals decreases with increasing soil pH. However, this approach is not applicable to all metals, especially those that form oxyanions—the bioavailability of such species increases with increasing pH. Therefore, one of the prerequisites for remediating contaminated sites is a detailed assessment of the nature of contaminants present in the soil. The application of a modified aluminosilicate to a highly contaminated soil around a zinc smelter in Belgium was shown to reduce the bioavailability of metals thereby reducing the Zn phytotoxicity.151 The simple addition of rock phosphates to form Pb phosphate has also been demonstrated to reduce the bioavailability of Pb in aqueous solutions and contaminated soils due to immobilization in the metal.161 Nevertheless, there is concern over the long-term stability of the processes. The immobilization process appears attractive currently given that there are very few cheap and effective in situ remediation techniques for metal-contaminated soils. A novel, innovative approach is using higher plants to stabilize, extract, degrade, or volatilize inorganic and organic contaminants for in situ treatment (cleanup or containment) of polluted topsoils.171

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