Copper is a very common metal that is naturally present in the environment: it is therefore necessary for biodiversity. Moreover, for several decades, men themselves have used it immensely in their activities. This mass introduction then allowed scientists to notice that its elimination is very difficult. As a result, it can be seen that these high concentrations have adverse effects on living organisms.
How do men introduce it into nature?
There are two main sectors where its use is ubiquitous: industry and agriculture. For the first, it is easy to understand why this area is a consumer of copper. But it is more difficult to determine how it pollutes the soil in the long term. It is notably by the particles present in the industrial fumes that the pollution began during the Thirty Glorious. These molecules, having a certain weight, are then impregnated into the soil over time. In addition, brownfields and landfills (official or clandestine) allow direct contact of the metal with the soil. This pollution is therefore much more important and is realized in a reduced lapse of time.
For the second, it is in particular by answering the problem of food production that pollution has occurred. Indeed, the need to protect plants from natural aggressors or even to treat them has introduced the use of products such as insecticides, fungicides, herbicides or even parasiticides. These are often composed of copper and are found in solid or liquid form. When they are applied, they are in direct contact with the soil and absorb efficiently and sustainably.
In recent years, certain restrictions have of course been taken to limit this pollution. Indeed, now, the filtration of industrial fumes and treatment products are controlled to minimize their impact on the environment. However, the soil is nonetheless polluted since the elimination of this metal is difficult. Currently in France, 80% of soils have too high concentration rates: each potentially has a polluted land without knowing it.
What effects does it have on soil life?
Soils with high concentrations of copper greatly influence production, since it is in this polluted environment that plants grow. Indeed, like all living beings, heavy metal poisoning has a negative impact on their functioning and development.
Firstly, the accumulation of copper in soils disrupts the nutritional exchanges between the soil and the plants. This has the consequence of reducing the fertility of the soil, or even rendering it uncultivable in the most extreme cases. This consequence can be observed particularly by the difficult growth of the young plants or even by the sensitivity they have to pathogens.
In addition, we must not forget that in the soil, there are other contributors to plants: earthworms. Indeed, the latter, by creating tunnels, allow the soil to be irrigated and aerated in an optimal way, and thus avoid the effect of compaction. However, the toxicity of the soil reduces their population and proportionally the tunnels, which implies a smothering of the plants.
However, if their development is so limited, it is also logical to note that the quality of the productions will become more and more mediocre and the quantity, more and more weak.