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how to deal with low grade toxins  RSS feed

 
Brice Moss
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Location: rainier OR
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I found myself pulling another thread off topic here
http://www.permies.com/permaculture-forums/2439_0/permaculture/wicking-raised-bed
and want to have that discussion so I thought I'd open a new thread for it



brice Moss wrote:
my thoughts re: toxic chemicals in pod liners paints ect
1) we get plenty of exposure to toxics through the air we breath and everyday contact with th stuff of life
2) kept moist in the solid is the best place for these toxics to find something on the foodchain that will absorb them and render them non toxic
3) plenty of naturally created toxins out there too
so its a balance of risks and work, I try not to worry about anything less risky to me than taking a shower that is to say if the risk of serious injury statistically is less than the approximately 1-10000 chance I will dies by slipping and cracking my head in the shower I shrug ignore the risk and move on with my life cause the stress of worrying about it is more likely to affect my health than it is.


richie wrote:
OK sure, we get plenty of of exposure to toxins through the air, but just for that reason shouldn't we try to minimise the other toxins in our lives?

And when the toxins rot down into the food chain (in our veggie beds) is it not rotting down into our food?

And also what about the permaculture ethic of care for the soil? shouldn't we be doing our best to keep toxins out of the earth instead of intentionally putting them in? I know when I dig up a piece of plastic twine from a previous renter of my allotment, I always take a moment to pick it up and put it in my pocket. I think it is always good to remove plastic, and not put it in.
 
Brice Moss
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the problem with all toxins is one of disposal

now me I'm likely to leave that little bit of string right there in the ground because I figure its not going to contribute enough gick to the soil to hurt me but if I pile it up with 10billion other tiny bits of plastic somewhere like a landfill its likely to cause a toxic mess that will hurt things

much like how pig shit while good when spread over a field become a major pollution source when concentrated in lagoons by feedlot operations.

so I'd just as soon incorporate the ink from that cardboard into my soil and let the bacterias and fungi work their magic than pile it up in a landfill somewhere where the toxins certainly will build up to disastrous levels.

one thing you learn in biology is that most toxins have a threshold level under which they cause very little harm so unless a toxin tends to accumulate in the food chain the best way to deal with it usually is to spread it out.

now I do try and reduce the production of toxic gick like plastic, but using a waste stream like cardboard does not add to the amount of inks or cardboard produced
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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brice Moss wrote:the problem with all toxins is one of disposal


Some are biodegradable, or will cease to be as harmful by some other mechanism.

For example, there are radioisotopes with a half-life of minutes or less, and with non-radioactive decay products: after a day or so, you can't even measure the radiation emitted.

It's very difficult to generalize when we use terms as broad as "toxin" or "chemical."
 
                                  
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I read an article about the use of composting worms in India to clean up pretty severe - in my memory - toxic waste. In several generations the worms began to show significant progress. They are our very best allies I think - them an' those microbes.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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blueroot wrote:[composting worms] are our very best allies I think - them an' those microbes.


There's also a camp that thinks macroscopic fungi are our best allies (paul stamets is a notable example), and another that might point to cattle (biodynamic gardeners, for one) or trees (too many to name) or even forbs.

I think the best thing is for each of these camps to learn how to play on their favorite contender's strengths, and circumvent or buttress their weaknesses, then try their methods out in whatever context seems appropriate.

Toxic waste disposal/remediation is, in my experience, endlessly complicated.
 
Brice Moss
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I do think that nature will find a way to break down and otherwise deal with anything we throw at it sooner or later. lots of ways that this occurs
the two keys IMO is to slow the rate of changes so that the systems have time to react in non catastrophic ways and to not concentrate our waste in such a way as to overwhelm the adaptability of a given area

unfortunately the majority of current waste management practices are of the pile it up and encapsulate it variety like landfills, sure a sanitary lined landfill wont release its load right now, but sometime its gonna break open and then the waste inside will be to concentrated for life as we know it to deal with it.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Even tough and resilient life may have trouble dealing with some toxins. 

http://www.ourstolenfuture.org/
 
Brice Moss
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Ludi wrote:
Even tough and resilient life may have trouble dealing with some toxins. 

http://www.ourstolenfuture.org/


absolutely! good point and great website, some things we realy do need to work to stop the production of entirely
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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There are some toxins, especially heavy metals, that will overall do less harm if they're concentrated, rendered into some stable form, and placed away from life.

There have been some recent advances in the treatment of polychlorinated biphyenyls, particularly the use of supercritical water to oxidize them. In that case, probably in many others, natural mechanisms are poorly developed in all known ecosystems, and human intervention to treat the waste seems to be the best path forward.

In a majority of cases, I guess it makes sense to avoid concentrating the pollutant, in order to allow natural processes to handle it, but I think it's important to be aware of the exceptions to this rule.
 
                    
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you all read the "Humanure Handbook" by Joe Jenkins?  Thermophyllic micro organisms do a number on a lot of toxins, according to Jenkins.  I can not vouch for it.  He should know what he is talking about. Not that I would dump the stuff on my compost pile.
 
Paula Edwards
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The problem is the speed we are adding toxins to our environment. Each thing you buy and throw away contains some toxins and production causes even more toxin. Unless you only buy natural materials worked by hand.
7 billion people and we are more every day and all of them want a nice comfortable live throwing more and more rubbish out. No matter from which side you are looking at that picture that cannot end well!
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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If this topic is of concern to you, it might be worthwhile figuring out what particular toxin, family of toxins, etc. is a risk in your case. It will be difficult for the discussion to continue productively unless there is a particular topic, or a few of them.

Elfriede B is right that many substances are biodegradable. Elements are obviously not biodegradable, and there are some halogenated hydrocarbons that don't biodegrade much, as well as some of the heavier normal hydrocarbons. There are some substances for which a monoculture of fungus seems to allow for more complete and/or rapid decomposition than a compost pile. In this case, as in others you've mentioned, specifics would allow the conversation to proceed.
 
rose macaskie
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I believe it can happen that a atom loses a proton so the element degrades.

It would be better to collect lead and found it into bars than to have it floating around in little bits on our fields and getting into our food supply. there is somthing called biomining which is growin gplants tha ttake up lead say and then harvesting them and then processing them to get the metal out, biomining.

talking of dumps, if part of the famouse fertile tierra pretta is lots of shards of pottery as well as bits of charcoal, don't we want all the brick out of the dumps an dcrushed so we can use it for bettering our soil. It could be a business for someone, selling brick dust and what about the dust from chacoal getting bagged up for gardens? agri rose macaskie
 
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