Could Cannabis Rid the Soil of Forever Chemicals?

There’s already plenty of discussion out there as to why the cannabis plant is good for the soil. Whether growing it for hemp or marijuana, the plant itself is much nicer to the land than many other crops.

With a long taproot, the cannabis plant actually helps aerate the soil as it grows. It also requires less water and no pesticides to get big and strong, making it very environmentally friendly.

The latest possible development in cannabis’ usefulness when it comes to the environment is its potential to clean the soil it grows in.

What are forever chemicals?

It’s no secret that some pretty shady things have happened when it comes to dumping chemicals into the ground. Whether happening on company land, or secretly deposited on public property, certain chemicals have led to lasting damage in so many communities.

Some of these chemicals can get cleaned up, allowing the soil to heal and one day be safe. Others are PFAS or forever chemicals. These will never break down in the environment and, if ingested, will remain in the body, building up over time. Even small doses of PFAS have been previously linked to cancer and other diseases.

PFAS are highly toxic, fluorinated chemicals found in hundreds of everyday products. Two of the most famous PFAS are PFOA, the Teflon chemical, and PFOS, an ingredient in Scotchgard. They were both phased out of use, but the damage was already done in a lot of places.

Once in the soil, you can’t get them out. They never break down.

How can hemp help?

Specifically addressing the presence of PFOS, found in the soil in Maine, scientists are looking to hemp to help. The need is pretty immediate. Traces of PFOS and other PFAS have emerged across the state in deer meat, chicken eggs, and cow’s milk, along with the soil and groundwater.

Testing began with a few small hemp crops, planted in soil already known to suffer from contamination. Once the hemp was ready to harvest, samples were sent in for testing. When looked at, these plants did show accumulated PFAS in their tissue.

At the same time, the concentration of the PFAS in the soil decreased.

Phytoremediation

Plants have already shown they can pull toxins and heavy metals from soil. It’s a process known as phytoremediation. As specific plants grow, they’re able to remove, degrade, or stabilize the harmful elements in the soil.

Some well-known plants with this capability include:

  • Indian Mustard
  • White Willow
  • Poplar trees
  • Indian Grass
  • Sunflower

However, none of these have shown promise at pulling forever chemicals out of the soil.

Will it really work?

If the research proves successful, the cannabis plant would be the first known solution to absorb these extremely harmful forever chemicals from the soil. Already seeing that it does positively impact the soil, researchers now must figure out where in the plant the chemicals actually go, and what happens to them once they get there.

It will matter if hemp is able to break the chemicals down instead of simply sequestering them within the plant.

So, new, larger crops will go in, and more testing and observation will take place to hopefully establish yet another significant use for the cannabis plant.

Stay on top of the latest hemp news

For the latest developments in hemp, that impact both farmers and manufacturers, check out the resource library at Arbor Vita8. We’re all about hemp, and make it a priority to stay on top of everything that impacts the industry. That includes the potential effects the hemp plant can have on the environment. We then share everything with you to keep you in the loop.

To learn more about us, and how we can help support your efforts in the hemp industry, contact us today.

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