/AnMtgsAbsts2009.55164 Soils: A Public Health Threat or Savior.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009: 8:05 AM
Convention Center, Spirit of Pittsburgh Ballroom BC,Third Floor

Ian Pepper, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Soil is the most complicated biomaterial on the planet due to complex soil architecture and billions of soil microbes with extreme biotic diversity. Soil is potentially a source of human pathogens, which can be defined as: geo-indigenous; geo-transportable; or geo-treatable. Such pathogens cumulatively can and do result in multiple human fatalities annually. A striking example is Helminths, with current infections worldwide estimated to be around two billion. However, soil can also be a source of antibiotics and other natural products that enhance human health. Soilborne antibiotics are used to treat human infections, but can also result in antibiotic resistant bacteria. Natural products isolated from soil resulted in 60% of new cancer drugs between the period 1983–1994. Soils are also crucial to human health through their impact on human nutrition. Finally, from a global perspective, soils are vital to the future well-being of nations through their impact on climate change and global warming. A critical review of soil with respect to public health leads to the conclusion that overall soil is a public health savior. The value of soil using a systems approach is estimated to be $20 trillion, and is by far the most valuable ecosystem in the world.