Polluted woods: Leaves contaminate soil with hydrocarbon

December 20, 2017

In the Autumn leaves fall and apparently contaminate soil. It happens in the Italian woods where clearing the land is required by law for heavy hydrocarbon concentration greater than 50 milligrams per kilo.

It was revealed by a study conducted by scientists at Ca' Foscari University of Venice and The Institute for the Dynamics of Environmental Processes (CNR) in collaboration with the Società estense servizi ambientali, a specialized company based in Padua.

The researchers have identified natural hydrocarbons in woods and farmlands that had been fertilized with artificial fertilizer, compost or digestate in the past ten years. Soil samples showed high levels of hydrocarbons, especially for samples taken in the woods with concentrations that reached up to four times the legal limit.

Foliage would be to blame for this contamination. "The surface of the leaves is covered with waxes containing hydrocarbons, and when falling they contaminate the soil - explained Marco Vecchiato, post-doc fellow at the Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics at Ca' Foscari - but even if this concentration appears to be higher than legal limits, it does not necessarily entail toxicity hazard".

The research was published on the Scientific Journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters, and represents a first step in analyzing a topic relevant to environmental protection, analytical chemistry methods and environmental legislation.

"The levels and typology of analyzed hydrocarbons suggest a plant origin for farmland as well. Legislation though considers the levels per se and makes no distinction between natural occurrence and cases of contamination"

What would be the solution? In other countries the limits are set at higher levels, but the key seems to be the quality of the analytical method which must be as detailed as possible without being too expensive or complicated.

The research suggests alternatives to tell the difference between natural occurrence (lead by leaves, fungi or bacteria) and contamination from hydrocarbons derived by petroleum. With a specially designed test the researchers could identify a 'signal' left by foliage and the one left by diesel or mineral oil leakage.
The research was supported by a grant financed by Sesa spa, and under scientific supervision of Rossano Piazza, professor of analytical chemistry at Ca' Foscari. Tiziano Bonato, director of the laboratory for analysis at Sesa spa, collaborated to the project as well as a PhD candidate in an industrial doctorate in Environmental Sciences at Ca' Foscari.

Università Ca' Foscari Venezia

Related Hydrocarbons Articles from Brightsurf:

Room temperature conversion of CO2 to CO: A new way to synthesize hydrocarbons
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and their colleagues have demonstrated a room-temperature method that could significantly reduce carbon dioxide levels in fossil-fuel power plant exhaust, one of the main sources of carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

A new synthesis method for three-dimensional nanocarbons
A Nagoya University team has developed a new method of synthesis for three-dimensional nanocarbons, utilizing a catalytic reaction to connect benzene rings and create an eight-membered ring structure.

Melting properties determine biological functions of cuticular hydrocarbon layer of ants
The bodies of ants are covered with wax-like substances known as cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) that serve communication as well as protection against desiccation.

Newly found bacteria fights climate change, soil pollutants
Cornell University researchers have found a new species of soil bacteria that is particularly adept at breaking down organic matter, including the cancer-causing chemicals that are released when coal, gas, oil and refuse are burned.

The catalyst that removes CO2 and produces hydrocarbons
Water is split into hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis, but if CO2 is also added to the mixture, compounds can be generated to make textiles, diapers and even spirits.

The power of going small: Copper oxide subnanoparticle catalysts prove most superior
Scientists at Tokyo Tech have shown that copper oxide particles on the sub-nanoscale are more powerful catalysts than those on the nanoscale.

All-in-one: New microbe degrades oil to gas
The tiny organisms cling to oil droplets and perform a great feat: As a single organism, they may produce methane from oil by a process called alkane disproportionation.

US military consumes more hydrocarbons than most countries -- massive hidden impact on climate
Research by social scientists from Durham University and Lancaster University shows the US military is one of the largest climate polluters in history, consuming more liquid fuels and emitting more CO2e (carbon-dioxide equivalent) than most countries.

Efficiently producing fatty acids and biofuels from glucose
Researchers have presented a new strategy for efficiently producing fatty acids and biofuels that can transform glucose and oleaginous microorganisms into microbial diesel fuel, with one-step direct fermentative production.

Inner electrons behave differently in aromatic hydrocarbons
In an international research collaboration between Tsinghua University in Beijing and Sorbonne University in Paris, scientists found that four hydrocarbon molecules, known for their internal ring structure, have a lower threshold for the release of excess energy than molecules without a similar ring structure, because one of their electrons decays from a higher to a lower energy level, a phenomenon called the Auger effect.

Read More: Hydrocarbons News and Hydrocarbons Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.