For centuries hemp has been proclaimed as a miraculous plant due to the fact that it has a long list of benefits and potential uses. Hemp can be grown to provide bio-fuel, clothing, shelter, nutrition, and now evidence suggests it can be grown to remove toxins from the soil.
Phytoremediation, or the decontamination of soil through the direct use of living green plants, has been a hot topic for quite some time now. Increasing fossil fuel production and consumption have tremendous implications for the environment and in turn the human race. These incredibly polluting processes have left some areas of land too toxic to sustain any form of life.
The fact that hemp has the ability to decontaminate soil is not new and has actually been known for quite some time. After the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, over 100,00 square kilometers of land was decimated and engulfed in radiation. Four years later, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) assessed the situation and discovered dangerously high levels of various toxic metals. The consensus was to use phytoremediation to clean the soil of Chernobyl and the surrounding areas. Various plants were used for their unique ability to up-take contaminants from the soil. However, a Phytotech research scientist Slavik Dushenkov, stated that "hemp is proving to be one of the best phyto-remediative plants we have been able to find". Put simply, hemp has the ability to remove and trap large amounts of contaminants from soil as it grows.
Experiments conducted by Belarus scientists concluded that they could take the contaminant filled hemp plants and turn them into clean bio-diesel. For example, if the contaminant-filled hemp plants were processed for nutritional purposes such as food, it is highly likely that consumers would get sick from the contaminated hemp-derived food. By processing contaminated hemp for bio-fuel, the contaminants are removed entirely in a safe manner instead of transitively passing contaminants to consumers. This "dirty hemp" can also be processed into animal bedding, clothing, plastics, hempcrete, etc.
Hemp is able to remove radiation from soil but it also can be used to clean up oil spills and uptake cadmium or other heavy metals found in soil. However, as previously mentioned all the contaminants the hemp plant absorbs is trapped within the hemp plant. This poses a serious health risk to consumers who intake any hemp-derived product such as oils or seeds. It is imperative for a consumer to research where their products come from. Reputable sellers have their products tested and processed by a third-party before selling.
O'Connell, Kit. “How Hemp Can Heal Our Soil .” Ministry of Hemp, 27 Apr. 2017,ministryofhemp.com/blog/hemp-soil-remediation/.
Seshta. “Hemp and the Decontamination of Radioactive Soil.” Sensi Seeds Blog, 25 Dec. 2013, sensiseeds.com/en/blog/hemp- decontamination-radioactive-soil/.