Soil Pollution- Causes, Effects and Solutions

What is Soil Pollution

Because of its persistence and impact on humans, animals, and plants, soil contamination has caught the interest of a significant number of researchers. Soil contamination occurs when substances enter the soil, changing its composition and biology, reducing its fertility, making it more prone to drought, and rendering it unfit for cultivation.

Soil pollution affects the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the health of our ecosystems. The potential of soils to cope with pollution is limited; the prevention of soil pollution should be a top priority worldwide.

Causes of Soil Pollution

Soil pollution is a complicated phenomenon that can be generated by a range of substances and behaviors, ranging from cigarette butts littering to the overuse of chemical fertilizers. Every cause is intertwined with the others. It’s tough to pinpoint one particular factor. The most common causes, however, are given below.

Industrial Production

In the last century, industrial activity has been the most significant contributor to the problem, especially as the amount of mining and manufacturing has expanded. The majority of industries rely on mineral extraction from the ground.
The by-products are contaminated, whether they are iron ore or coal, and they are not disposed of in a manner that can be called safe. As a result, industrial waste continues to accumulate in the soil surface for a long time and makes it unsuitable for use.

Agricultural Activities

Since the invention of modern pesticides and fertilizers, the use of chemicals has increased dramatically. They’re chock-full of chemicals that don’t occur naturally and can’t be broken down by it. As a result, when they mix with water, they seep into the ground and gradually deplete the soil’s fertility.

Other chemicals alter the soil’s makeup and make it more susceptible to eroding by water and air. Many of these pesticides are absorbed by plants, and as they disintegrate, they pollute the soil since they become part of the land.

Disposal of Waste

How we dispose of our waste is becoming an increasing source of concern. While industrial waste will undoubtedly pollute the environment, there is another way in which we contribute to pollution. Every person excretes a certain amount of waste in the form of urine and faeces.
While majority of it is disposed of in sewers, a significant quantity is deposited directly into landfills in the form of diapers. Even the sewage system comes to an end at the landfill, where biological waste pollutes the soil and water. This is due to the fact that our bodies are full of toxins and chemicals, which are now seeping into the ground and polluting the soil.

Accidental Oil Spills

During the storage and transportation of chemicals, oil leaks can occur. This can be seen at nearly every gas station. The toxins in the gasoline degrade the quality of the soil and render it unfit for cultivation. These contaminants can infiltrate groundwater through the land and render it unfit for human consumption.

Acid Rain 

Acid rain is created when contaminants in the air combine with rain and fall to the ground. Polluted water has the potential to dissolve some of the soil’s important nutrients and alter its structure.

Effects of Soil Pollution 

Soil has an impact on practically every element of our life. We don’t always understand it. As a result, we are sometimes oblivious to the impact of soil pollution on our daily life. Polluted soil leads to stunted crops and, in some cases, a toxic subsurface water table. The following are some of the most significant consequences of soil pollution.

Human Health Consequences

Given that soil is the source of our ability to survive, its contamination has far-reaching implications for our health. Plants and crops growing in polluted soil absorb much of the pollution and then pass it on to humans. This may account for the abrupt increase in minor and fatal ailments.
Long-term contact to such soil can alter the body’s genetic make-up, resulting in congenital disorders and chronic health problems that are difficult to treat. In fact, it has the potential to sicken cattle to a significant degree and cause food poisoning over time. If plants are unable to grow in polluted soil, it can result in widespread hunger.

Effects on Plant Growth

The widespread pollution of the soil has an impact on the ecological equilibrium of any system. When the chemistry of the soil drastically changes in a short period of time, most plants are unable to adapt. The fungi and bacteria in the soil that hold it together start to deteriorate, causing soil erosion as a result.
The soil’s fertility gradually declines, rendering the land unfit for cultivation and preventing any local vegetation from surviving. Large swaths of land have become contaminated, posing a health risk. Unlike deserts, where native vegetation thrives, such land is unsuitable for most types of life.

Reduced Fertility of the Soil

Toxic substances in the soil can reduce soil fertility, resulting in a reduction in soil production. The polluted soil is then utilised to grow fruits and vegetables that are deficient in nutrients and may contain a dangerous material that can cause major health issues in those who consume them.

Toxic Dust

The release of hazardous and foul gases from landfills pollutes the environment and has a negative impact on some people’s health. Furthermore, the foul odour causes inconvenience to others.

Soil Structure Changes

The death of many soil organisms (such as earthworms) can cause changes in soil structure. Apart from that, it may push other predators to travel in quest of food to new locations.

Solutions to Reduce Soil Pollution

Soil deterioration is a complicated issue that necessitates collaborative efforts from governments, institutions, communities, and individuals. Some of the things we can do to improve its health are as follows:

  1. Consume sustainable foods, correctly recycle batteries, make homemade compost, and dispose of medications in designated areas.
  2. Encourage, among other things, a more environmentally sustainable model for industry, farming, and stock breeding.
  3. Improve urban and transportation planning, as well as waste water treatment.
  4. Improve mining waste management, landscape restoration, and topsoil conservation.
  5. Local communities and indigenous peoples should be involved in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of sustainable land and soil management.

Final Thoughts

The article can be summarized into following points

  1. Soil pollution occurs as a result of the entry of foreign bodies that change its chemical and physical composition and render it unfit for agriculture.
  2. The problem of soil pollution is characterized by the fact that it lasts for a long time until it is addressed or identified.
  3. Soil pollutants are multiplied and varied. The most important of them is the radioactive pollution that occurs as a result of nuclear radiation such as uranium and others. In addition, smelting minerals introduce many pollutants to the soil.
  4. One of the most important soil pollutants is throwing industrial and household waste into it, since most factories are built near residential and agricultural areas and rivers.
  5. The most important source of agricultural soil pollution is the use of pesticides in large quantities. Pesticides contain large amounts of chemical toxin that contribute to soil loss and drought. Some of them contain arsenic, which causes the pollution of agricultural crops and eliminates the role of beneficial insects.
  6. The use of large quantities of chemical fertilizers such as nitrogen, phosphate and potassium leads to the pollution of agricultural crops and the formation of a porous layer that causes the inability of plant roots to absorb important nutrients.
  7. The use of untreated wastewater contributes to soil pollution through the accumulation of silt, and the availability of insects and harmful water weeds.
  8. One of the most prominent preventive methods to protect the soil and agricultural lands is the adoption of organic and biological agriculture, and biological pesticides such as beneficial bacteria and fungi beneficial.


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