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Public Lab Research note


Wrapping up a research area review on soil contamination

by bhamster | April 07, 2021 15:32 07 Apr 15:32 | #26156 | #26156

The seasons are turning over and we're wrapping up our most recent research area review on soil contamination.


We started the research area review in early February with a kick-off call and were joined by new and longtime Public Lab community members (notes here!). People shared their questions, ongoing projects, and biggest challenges around community science on soil contamination. This and following conversations helped set the direction of the research area review for the next couple months.

Building off those conversations, we posted questions and shared answers, and then gathered the knowledge and resources people shared into the pages listed in the box above. We also heard from new community members who dropped into our weekly Open Calls and were interested in getting involved with soil community science.

A huge thank you to all who contributed their time, experience, and knowledge on the website or on a call!

@jjcreedon, @Mike_CSCR, @ngocthuyluu, @abbykinchy, @DanielleS, @dusjagr, @sureta, @CherokeeConcernedCitizens, @Ag8n, @kgradow1, @Bernard, @alejobonifacio, @gfedorke, @LESBreathe


Virtual events

Digging into soil research

A public call on community science and soil contamination wrapped up the research area review at the end of March. We highlighted new and updated Public Lab pages on soil, gave an overview of some methods that people can use to test and remediate polluted soil, and spoke about ongoing challenges with community science on soil contamination. Check out a recording of the call plus all shared links here, and learn more about research area reviews and how to get involved here.

Demo of the Soil Sampling Toolkit by Citizen Science Community Resources

We also co-hosted a virtual tool demo with Jackie James (@jjcreedon) and Mike Rosenberg (@Mike_CSCR) of Citizen Science Community Resources, who showed us their open source Soil Sampling Toolkit. The Toolkit helps community scientists find out and understand what chemicals are in their soil. You can check out a summary and recording of that demo here!

Stay tuned for our next research area review on organizing and advocacy. And please comment below if you have any ideas, questions, or feedback!

Some questions and challenges that came up on the call:

  • Soil conditions and contamination can vary greatly among regions and within a contaminated site. This makes it difficult to recommend methods or actions in a general way.
  • How can we more effectively combine community science and more conventional lab-based analysis that might be required to meet data standards?
  • Are there examples of bioassays or bioremediation methods being accepted within legal frameworks for soil testing or treatment?
  • What is the timescale for phytoremediation to remove contaminants, for example lead, from the soil?
  • Are there existing guides that recommend remediation methods based on different soil contaminants and levels of contamination?
  • What groups or agencies are looking at the intersections of land/soil management and ocean pollution?
  • As soil and water share similar pollution problems, what research methods can be shared between them?

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