Believe it or not, industrial hemp may be of aid in removing toxins from our soil.
Hemp is a versatile plant- from helping us make dozens of sustainable products, including medical stuff to clothing to it to helping us clean our planet.
With the growth of human population, so does our need for more land increase. However, our dependence on dirty industrial processes and fossil fuel has caused a lot of land to be toxic.
This is why the growing field of bioremediation may be crucial. Bioremediation means usage of living things to heal our soil- cleaning it and reclaiming some of the polluted lands.
For this purpose, several bacteria and microorganisms can be used, but phytoremediation with plants like hemp may also be of aid.
Hemp: A Promising Plant for Bioremediation
The cleansing power of industrial hemp was seen in Chernobyl, after the nuclear disaster in 1986 that spread radioactive waste throughout Eastern Europe.
More than 100,000 square km of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine had radiation and most of this land couldn’t be used.
In the 90s, Phytotech, a company, started experimenting with industrial hemp in some Ukrainian regions that were polluted and the results were promising.
According to Elaine Charkowski’s statement from 1998, phytoremediation can help eliminate radioactive elements from the soil and water at the weapons-producing areas.
Charkowski further added it can help clean pesticides, solvents, metals, crude oil, explosives, toxins, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons.
Hemp’s Use as a Biofuel
The hemp planted near Chernobyl couldn’t be used for food or medicine; however, was safely distilled into ethanol and used for biofuel.
Belarus did several successful experiments in growing hemp on toxic soil and used it later as fuel.
This allows scientists to take advantage of the contaminants hemp removes as a byproduct of growing and trapping them in the plants that are then removed when the cycle is completed.
Moreover, according to a paper from 2012, a team of Chinese researchers did an experiment with different types of hemp to absorb the cadmium from soil.
Excessive presence of cadmium in soil can enter our food chain and its consumption can lead to joint and spinal ache and it’s also been associated with kidneys and cancer.
7 of the 18 types of hemp they tried out were the most successful. All of them are native to China.
They are therefore good candidates for implementing the cultivation of biodiesel crops for phytoremediation of soil contaminated with cadmium.
This process can also be an alternative to bad chemicals that are used to clean the oil spills.