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Feb 14, 2022 Practice Insight
Nuestros Suelos: exploring new forms of public engagement with polluted soils

by Sebastian Ureta, Miriam Llona, Delia Rodríguez-Oroz, Daniel Valenzuela, Carolina Trujillo-Espinoza, Consuelo Guiñez, Alejandro Rebolledo, María José Maiza and Camilo Rodríguez Beltrán

Despite being a critical environmental problem, soil pollution is not usually considered as a relevant issue by the general public. This disinterest derives from traditional procedures to assess soil pollution that are quite complex and costly, not considering any form of citizen involvement. Seeking to challenge this situation, the project “Nuestros Suelos” (Our Soil) aimed at designing and testing a low-cost participative soil pollution assessment toolkit. The final prototype included several participative modules, going from an assessment of the history of local soils to measuring heavy metals such as Arsenic and Copper. Tested with low-income communities in northern Chile, the toolkit was able not only to produce multiple kinds of data but also a public that started to understand and care about the issue.

Volume 21 • Issue 01 • 2022