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Soil contamination with heavy metals: a hygienic concern

ISSN 2223-6775 Ukrainian journal of occupational health Vol.20, No 1, 2024


https://doi.org/10.33573/ujoh2024.01.066

Soil contamination with heavy metals: a hygienic concern

Dmytrukha N. M., Kozlov K. P., Herasimova O. V.
State Institution "Kundiiev Institute of Occupational Health of National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine"


Full article (PDF), ENG

Introduction. Soil pollution commonly results from metals, organic wastes, oils, tar, pesticides, explosives, toxic residues, radioactive materials, and biologically active combustible substances. Sources of such pollution encompass industrial and domestic waste sites, as well as unauthorized disposal areas. Today, soil pollution in Ukraine reflects not only economic activities but also the consequences of ongoing military operations.

Research Objective. The aim of this study is to analyze literature concerning heavy metal contamination of environmental elements resulting from warfare and its implications for public health.

Materials and Methods. An analytical review of scientific publications was conducted using medical databases along with internet resources.

Results and Discussion. Ukraine's recovery post-war entails overcoming extensive heavy metal contamination and addressing mining threats. Territorial scale and complexity necessitate long-term, resource-intensive recovery efforts. Comparative studies reveal complex contamination recovery challenges. Post-First World War France categorized war-damaged areas into green, yellow, and red zones. Balkan Peninsula countries face post-conflict ecological and institutional recovery hurdles. Post-war recovery challenges include coordination, data consolidation, and long-term toxicological monitoring. Pregnant women face increased risks from heavy metal exposure. Studies report livestock morbidity increases from mercury, lead, copper, magnesium, lithium, TNT, and depleted uranium soil and water contamination. Ukraine's post-war recovery challenges differ from traditional contexts, owing to ongoing conflict and extensive heavy metal contamination. Strategic recovery includes minimization of heavy metal exposure to vulnerable populations. The global community must step up efforts to address heavy metal contamination from military operations. Efforts must prioritize recovery of soil functionality to minimize heavy metal exposure risks.

Conclusions. Military activities cause extensive and prolonged environmental degradation, with contamination by heavy metals and toxic substances leading to significant economic, ecological, medical, and social impacts. Developing a recovery strategy for Ukraine must be specific to its circumstances and cannot solely rely on experiences from other countries due to ongoing pollution from active hostilities. After the war, a comprehensive research program focusing on military-induced environmental and public health effects should be prioritized.

Keywords: soils, heavy metals, pollution, health risks.

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