Anthrosols and technosols: the anthropogenic signature of contaminated soils and sediments in Australia

Fergusson, Lee (2017) Anthrosols and technosols: the anthropogenic signature of contaminated soils and sediments in Australia. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, 228 (8). pp. 267-282. ISSN 0049-6979


This paper explores the proposition that we are living in an era marked by unprecedented quantities and exotic types of human waste and environmental contamination by examining the impact of anthropogenic activity on the Earth’s epiderm. Specifically, the paper introduces anthrosols and technosols as critical markers of unfettered human activity as it is recorded in the terrestrial stratigraphic signature of soils and sediments adversely impacted by municipal, agricultural, industrial and maritime activities. The paper presents examples of the sources and fates of some of the most worrisome contaminants, many of them persistent organic pollutants, including common heavy metals-metalloids and hydrocarbons but also instances of more unfamiliar drug residues and antibiotic resistant genes, at Australia’s 160,000 contaminated sites.
Consideration is given to how anthropogenic elements and compounds in soil may bioaccumulate and bioconcentrate in animals, and how they can subsequently be consumed to the detriment of human health. Among the 75,000 identified contaminants in Australian soils are tributyltin, which has a half-life of at least ten years and is one of the most toxic chemicals introduced into the environment by man, and uranium-contaminated mine tailings, which require constant and careful management for up to 75,000 years if their polluting effects are to be minimized. The author concludes that anthrosols and technosols provide evidence of the Anthropocene in Australia.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Restricted access to published version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Linguistics, Adult and Specialist Education
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2018 00:26
Last Modified: 09 May 2018 01:05
Uncontrolled Keywords: anthrosols, technosols, contaminated soil, sediment, municipal waste, industrial waste, agriculture
Fields of Research : 05 Environmental Sciences > 0503 Soil Sciences > 050399 Soil Sciences not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objective: D Environment > 96 Environment > 9614 Soils > 961499 Soils not elsewhere classified
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1007/s11270-017-3460-z

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