Expert article
Modifier 17 February 2021
by Amaya Celaya Alvarez

Urban soil decontamination for citizens’ health

Baia Mare. Source: Baia Mare Municipality
Baia Mare. Source: Baia Mare Municipality
Pollution is one of the most significant environmental challenges worldwide; according to the European Environmental Agency, the management of polluted land costs about 6.5 billion€ a year in Europe alone.

Contamination with heavy metals, in particular (HM), represents a real health concern. Accordingly, urban ecosystems face severe problems that affect the health and quality of life of the population.

Baia Mare City is the capital of the Maramures county from the north-western part of Romania. The city is located in the valley formed along the Sasar River, that lies between the Somes Plateau and the Eastern Carpathian Mountains. The volcanic rocks in the nearby mountain massifs contain gold-silver ores and non-ferrous metals such as lead, zinc, copper, etc. Historically, this was a metallurgical area, but the city is currently transitioning from its past as Romania's mining capital towards a new sustainable social, economic, and environmental development model. However, although the city and its citizens are ready to move on into a new socio-economic era, the metallurgical legacy persists in the form of heavy metal pollution of the environment that significantly affects local ecosystems and human health in the urban area. Thus, currently about 627 hectares of contaminated land (5 times over the acceptable limits) are awaiting a solution.

In this context, SPIRE (Smart Post-Industrial Regenerative Ecosystem Project) proposes sustainable land use and integrated nature-based solutions aimed at inspiring action and re-claiming several polluted sites. The project integrates Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) and phytoremediation strategies into urban design and city planning, potentially providing a model for other European cities that still bear the burden of their industrial past.

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Public health consequences from pollution

Heavy Metals (HM) soil contamination

Nature-based Solutions and Phytoremediation

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