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Wonder Weed

Hemp to the Rescue at Detox Sites

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Cannabis is enjoying a renaissance of sorts, and one new application for hemp, the no-buzz industrial variety used in fabrics, oils and foods, is cleaning nuclear radiation from toxic soil and removing metals like cadmium, lead, mercury and other pollutants via phytoremediation. Allison Beckett, a cultivation expert at Marijuana.com, says, “Industrial hemp has been used in areas of high radiation, such as Fukushima, [in Japan,] with promising results. Not only does hemp pull toxic, heavy metals from the soil, it actually improves soil structure, making it usable as productive farmland again. Plus, hemp is a vigorous plant that absorbs CO2 rapidly, making it an encouraging solution to climate change.” Hemp phytoremediation has been used in Italy to clean up the small town of Taranto, where a steel plant has been leaking dioxin into the air and soil. The Pennsylvania Industrial Hemp Council and Lehigh University, in Bethlehem, are running a project to test the process in an arsenic-contaminated area in Upper Saucon Township that once harbored a zinc mine.


This article appears in the July 2019 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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