One of the critical global environmental problems is human and ecological exposure to hazardous wastes from agricultural, industrial, military and mining activities. These wastes often include heavy metals, hydrocarbons and other organic chemicals. Traditional field and laboratory detection and monitoring of these wastes are generally expensive and time consuming. The synoptic perspective of overhead remote imaging can be very useful for the detection and remediation of hazardous wastes. Aerial photography has a long and effective record in waste site evaluations. Aerial photographic archives allow temporal evaluation and change detection by visual interpretation. Multispectral aircraft and satellite systems have been successfully employed in both spectral and morphological analysis of hazardous wastes on the landscape and emerging hyperspectral sensors have permitted determination of the specific contaminants by processing strategies using the tens or hundreds of acquired wavelengths in the solar reflected and/or thermal infrared parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. This paper reviews the literature of remote sensing and overhead imaging in the context of hazardous waste and discusses future monitoring needs and emerging scientific research areas.
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Visible and infrared remote imaging of hazardous waste: A review