Further description:-  Diffuse pollution 

Glossary Entry
Pollution from widespread activities with no one discrete source, e.g. acid rain, pesticides, urban 
run-off, etc.

1.     Background


Contamination of natural resources has received increasing attention in the past decades. The extensive application of man-kind chemicals designed for use in industry, agriculture, pest control, and consumer products as well as the growing consumption fossil fuels have led to a widespread distribution of pollutants into the environment. Xenobiotica can be found in all environmental compartments, such as atmosphere, soil, and water. The diffuse distribution of pollutants impacts the quality of natural resources and ultimately the human well being. It has been recognized that, with respect to the ubiquitous occurrence of anthropogenic and natural chemical substances, soils pose a key zone since this compartment may store, filter, and transport water and dissolved pollutants. Moreover, soils can act as a secondary source which releases pollutants to adjacent compartments, such as groundwater, surface water, or sediments. This fact has recently been addressed by the EU Soil Thematic Strategy (DG Environment: "Towards a Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection", COM(2002), 179). Another aspect of diffuse pollution is the scale problem. Basically diffuse pollution is dealing with contaminated compartments on a large-scale. That requires a fundamental understanding of processes ongoing on European and/or global scale in a multi-compartmental environment and needs the involvement of resources from different scientific-technical disciplines.


2.     Current Research


Abatement and control of diffuse pollution as well as the management of large-scale polluted environmental compartments, such as soils and groundwater, require and integrated understanding of scientific-technical processes, socio-economic factors and other driving forces. Current research activities are focused on filling the gap particularly in the area of interactions between the different environmental compartments and the anthrosphere. Moreover, the behavior and fate of diffuse pollution of soils and water (e.g. groundwater, surface water, rivers) at large scales as well as the effects of large scale pollution on the ecosystem function is object of ongoing research activities. In detail following major research topics in the area of diffuse pollution are addressed in research projects on the European level:


  • Identification of priority compound classes including persistent organic pollutants and emerging pollutants,
  • Use of sewage sludge as a source of diffuse pollution of soils,
  • Biogeochemical processes (e.g. biogeochemical interactions, biodiversity, interactions and metabolization of organic pollutants),
  • Physical processes (comprising determination of soil hydraulic properties, inverse modeling of soil property parameters and functions,
  • Soil-plant-atmosphere interactions,
  • Preferential flow and transport,
  • Multiphase flow,
  • Heterogeneity and scale problems including physical properties, scaling of chemical properties and processes,
  • Monitoring comprising soil monitoring and screening, sampling and sampling preparation procedures, detection of pollutants
  • Management options for large scale soil and water pollution including survey and monitoring, spatial distribution of diffuse pollution, mass flux balances,
  • Environmental fate and behavior of pollutants,
  • Effect assessment of diffuse soil and water pollution
  • Reduction, remediation, and control measures for diffuse soil and water pollution


3.     Literature


BUWAL (2002): Umwelt Schweiz 2002 In Mitteilung der Kommission der Europäischen Gemeinschaften vom 16.4.2002; ‘Hin zu einer spezifischen Bodenschutzstrategie’ nach Eurostat 2001; NewCronos Datenbank.


Desaules, A. et al. (2003): Vergleich von indirektem und direktem Monitoring von Schadstoffflüssen auf NABO-Parzellen


Grathwohl, P et al. (2004): Integrated Soil and Water Protection: Risks from Diffuse Pollution. SOWA Report 1.


Geiger, G. und R. Schulin (1995): Risikoanalyse, Sanierungs- und Überwachungsvorschläge für das schwermetallbelastete Gebiet von Dornach. AfU-Bericht Nr. 2, Amt für Umweltschutz des Kantons Solothurn, 79 S. + Anhang.


Gupta S.K., Herren T., Wenger K., Krebs R. and Hari T. (1999): In situ gentle remediation measures for heavy metal polluted soils. In "Phytoremediation of Contaminated Soil and Water" Symposium Monograph, CRC-Press, USA.


Hämmann, M. und Gupta, S.K. (2001): Bodenbelastungen in der Schweiz: Grundlagen des gesetzlichen Bewertungssystems und nachsorgliche Massnahmen. Bodenschutz ed. Dr. Gunther Bachmann , Erich Schmidt Verlag, Berlin.


Terythe, K. (2001): Methodischer Ansatz zur Einschätzung der Kombinationswirkung von Stoffen auf die biologische Aktivität, 1992; in: Bodenschutz ed. Dr. Gunther Bachmann , Erich Schmidt Verlag, Berlin.


Walther, W.; Pätsch, M.; Weller, D.; Reinstorf, F.; Harms, E.; Kersebaum, C. (2001): Nutrient loads on a Northern German Sandy Aquifer, Reduction Processes, their Distribution and Management tools. XXXI. IAH Congress. New approaches to characterising Groundwater Flow, 10th - 14th September 2001, Munich, ISBN 902651.


Wenger K., Hari T. and Gupta S.K. (1997): Approaches for ecological safe decontamination of oils contaminated by heavy metals. In the IBC’s Second Phytoremediation Conf. Proc., Seattle, June 18-19, 1997.


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