"Environmental pollution not only negatively affects our health, particularly the most vulnerable groups, but is also a major cause of biodiversity loss. It is therefore clear that action is needed now. With the Zero Pollution Action Plan we want to create a healthy living environment for Europeans, promote a resilient recovery from the effects of pollution and promote the transition to a clean, circular and climate-neutral economy.”
With these words, Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, launched an open public consultation on the EU action plan "Towards the goal of zero air, water and soil pollution - A healthier planet for healthier people" in November.
A pillar of the European Green Deal, the Zero Pollution Action Plan, will be based on initiatives in the fields of energy, industry, mobility, agriculture, biodiversity and climate.
The consultation follows the recent publication of the Roadmap, which outlines the EU's plans to achieve its zero pollution goal, through improved prevention, damage repair, monitoring and reporting of pollution, and to help integrate it into all investment policies and instruments.
Fertiliser products are often the focus of debate and discussion because their prolonged use has well-known negative impacts on different agricultural organisms due to the resulting accumulation of heavy metals in soils and vegetative systems. While responsible fertiliser application is a necessity, heavy metal soil pollution is not, and can be minimised through the use of responsible fertiliser products.
Toxic fertilisers with a high level of cadmium have no place in a circular agricultural system that operates according to the objectives indicated in the proposed EU Zero Pollution Action Plan.
A 2016 study by Kosolapova et al. which analysed residue samples taken from low fertility soddy-podzolic soils treated with organic (manure) and mineral fertilisers over a period of approximately 40 years found that all samples demonstrated safe values in terms of heavy metal residues. Notably, the samples that had been treated with organic fertilisers demonstrated higher heavy metal residues than those that had been treated with mineral-based fertilisers, and the highest crop returns were obtained from soils that had been treated with mineral fertilisers.
The results of this study into the use of organic and mineral fertilisers are consistent with the ambitions of the Zero Pollution Action Plan proposed by the EU as part of the Green Deal, and are proof that choosing one product over the other is not only possible, but it can really make a difference in the long run.
Initial publications indicate that the action plan will be a far-reaching environmental framework which will work in tandem with the Chemical Strategy for Sustainability, and which will include a revision of measures to address pollution from industrial installations in order to create a healthier environment for all. However, the use of greener fertiliser products can be a first small step towards a pollution-free future.
The adoption of the Zero Pollution Action Plan is foreseen in Q2 of 2021, and submissions to the Commission’s Open Public Consultation can be made via the online questionnaire available here until 10 February 2021.
Dietary Cadmium Intake and Related Risks on Human Health// Available online https://www.saferphosphates.com/insights/dietary-cadmium-intake-and-related-risks-on-human-health
Kosolapova A. et al. Yields of Field Crops and Sod-Podzolic Soil Fertility of West Ural Depending on Fertilizer System //Bulgarian Journal of Agricultural Science. – 2016. – Т. 22. – №. 3. – С. 381-385.
Yamaltdinova V.R., Vasbieva M.T. and Fomin D.S. Problems of Agricultural Chemistry and Ecology, 2020, No 3, pp. 39-43. (In Russian).
Molalign Medfu Tarekegn et al, Microbes Used as a Tool for Bioremediation of Heavy Metal from the Environment, Cogent Food and Agriculture, Vol. 6. 2020, Issue 1.
Zero Pollution Action Plan // http://ec.europa.eu/environment/strategy/zero-pollution-action-plan_en