The main causes of soil pollution | greenfall (2023)

Have you ever wondered what the world will be like in 100 years? Will it get any better than today? Or worst? The truth is that nobody can predict the future, but with the human population increasing, there is a big problem that has gotten worse over time: soil pollution.

Air and water pollution are often more noticeable than soil pollution and elicit a more instinctive response, an aversion to what can be seen. Soil contamination is an equally serious problem and often also contributes to water pollution through seepage into the water table or runoff through erosion. in open water.

Quickly navigate the causes of soil contamination






5.landfills and waste




What is soil pollution?

Effects of soil pollution on the environment

Ways to reduce soil contamination

(Video) Soil Pollution || What are the causes of soil pollution|| soil pollution effects

What is soil pollution?

Soil pollution is defined as the deterioration or even destruction of the earth's surface and soil caused by human activities.

Soil contamination sources can beIn a straight line, for example, dumping toxic chemicals directly into a location orindirectly, where, for example, toxic chemicals seep into the ground from particles deposited by air pollution from a nearby lead smelter[1].

It can also be simply transforming the land, clearing it so that charities can no longer provide services that support growth and protect it from further erosion.

Another read:Main causes of soil degradation

The expansion of housing, business, industry, infrastructure and agricultural developments, all necessary for an unprecedented population explosion in recent years, explains why humans are altering more than 50 percent of the land.[2].

The main causes of soil pollution | greenfall (1)

With that in mind, this human activity seems more than a little reckless.It takes 500 years to naturally produce an inch of topsoil under ideal conditions., no ecological changes[3].

Effects of soil pollution on the environment

Debris from the ground, whether it's a dry space where nothing can grow more than a few weeds, or a place that harbors trash and debris like old tires, gas cans, and plastic bags, is an aesthetic drain.

Studies show that repeatedlyhealth benefits of enjoying natureat its finest, with its lush growth, clean air and clean water refreshing world-weary city dwellers[4]The health-enhancing practice of drinking in nature in Japan is a cornerstone of healing therapies in Japan and South Korea, where it is known as "forest bathing".[5].

On the contrary, although this is not documented, no one would argue that seeing barren or contaminated land is depressing. But there are more serious questions about how soil pollution affects the environment.

The barren land is a clear indicator that wildlife habitat has not just been disturbed, but eradicated.

This has different consequences for us as part of the web of life. The network was disrupted when the life-permitting biodiversity was destroyed. Where there are no plants, there is no mechanism for producing oxygen (photosynthesis), there is no food and no habitat. for wild animals, amphibians, insects and probably some microorganisms to aerate, detoxify and regenerate the soil.

Another read:Why is biodiversity important for ecosystems?

Floors filled with toxic chemicals are not life-sustaining and pose a health hazard to children who may play there.

(Video) Soil Pollution | Causes of Soil Pollution | Remediation | Environmental Pollution

Before being banned in 1977 for its adverse effects on humans and wildlife and its long-term persistence in the environment,PCBs or polychlorinated biphenylsThey were widely used in industrial coatings and insulating materials for transformers, as well as in hydraulic fluids, fluorescent lamps and various consumer products. They were not just disposed of in landfills, but throughillegal landfilland when burning

The ashes and particles from the cremation fell to the ground and were absorbed into the soil.Almost all soils today contain at least small amounts of PCBs. [6].

Children who play in areas with PCBs can absorb toxins through their skin. And studies support evidence of its carcinogenic effects, as well as other negative immune, reproductive, neurological, and endocrine effects.[7].

The main causes of soil pollution | greenfall (2)

Toxic chemicals can seep through the soil and reach the water table below, often a source of drinking water for the nearby community.

When it rains, soil without plants to hold it will erode and the chemicals it contains on its surface and in the soil will run off, polluting rivers and streams into which water flows, bays and oceans, either direct or through tributaries. .

Toxic chemicals can settle into sediment at the bottom of the stream and adversely affect aquatic life that is self-sustaining through shelter and food. Toxic chemicals ingested through ingestion or absorption through the skin move up the food chain as they are stored in tissues. of marine life and is amplified when larger fish eat more smaller prey, so food can be quite toxic by the time fish make it to our plate.

It's not just direct contamination from toxic chemicals that can cause these problems. The problem is not limited to abandoned lots or illegal landfills.

The main causes of soil pollution | greenfall (3)

What are the causes of soil contamination?

Soil contamination is a major worldwide problem and is caused by a variety of factors. Some of the main causes of soil pollution are deforestation and consequent erosion, agriculture, industry, mining, landfills and illegal dumps, as well as urbanization and construction.[8].

Let's examine these activities in detail to see exactly how pollution of Earth's resources occurs when it does.


In the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, loggers clear an area the size of a football field every second.[9]. Removing vegetation cover not only removes wildlife habitat and food for wildlife, it also degrades the soil, leaving it barren and lacking plant roots to hold it in place and vulnerable to erosion.

Obviously, a tropical rainforest gets a lot of rain, heavy rains, and without a forest canopy to cushion the rains and a plant cover to keep the soil intact, the rich soil of the forest floor is easily washed away. Along with the topsoil go the nutrients needed to regenerate growth.

The main causes of soil pollution | greenfall (4)

It is estimated that eighty percent of land animals and plants live in forests. Removing even part of the canopy changes the forest's environment, as the canopy blocks harmful sunlight and retains internal heat at night. Many species cannot adapt to these sudden changes in temperature andMany species do not survive the destruction of their habitats. [10].

Loggers are not solely responsible for the country's rapid deforestation. Land developers, profiting from urban sprawl, are clearing forests, as are agribusinesses, to increase the amount of land available for cultivation.

In fact, agriculture has been found to be the direct cause of 80% of global deforestation.[11]. Much of this farmland is used to grow animal feed, mainly cattle for the beef industry. The land is also used for livestock grazing.[12].


The increase in the world's population and the growing demand for food are causing forests and grasslands to be converted into agricultural land. Natural vegetation has deep roots that hold the soil in place. Many of the replacement crops, such as cotton, coffee, wheat and soybeans, do not have deep roots and allow soil erosion. This means that the floods are getting worse as the country is no longer able to absorb the excess rain.[13]. It also allowseasy drainage of fertilizers and other applied chemicals.

The main causes of soil pollution | greenfall (5)

farmers regularlyapply highly toxic fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and insecticidesdirectly into the field and into the soil. What is not sprayed or pulled directly into the soil enters the soil through plant roots and carcasses of insects and target organisms, as well as dead weed debris. Pollution destroys healthy organisms responsible for generating new vegetative growth.

It can also seep into the ground through rainwater.

A 2010 studyof the agricultural herbicide atrazine found that of the 36 million kilograms applied annually, 225,000 kilograms were washed into the soil by rain, sometimes 1,600 kilometers from the source.

Changing the chemical composition of streams and rivers due to this chemical runoff upsets the natural balance of life and causes other problems that are often predictable but unforeseen. Damage caused by manure runoff from agriculture is well documented. Contributes excess nitrogen to the aquatic environment,creates algal bloomsand the resulting dead zones in the water where nothing can live.

A dead zone at the mouth of the Mississippi River, caused by fertilizer runoff primarily from cornfields along its banks, covers more than 7,700 square miles (20,000 km2) in the Gulf of Mexico during the summer months. Runoff not only continues, but does not decrease, but is expected to increase as demand for corn to feed livestock and biofuels increases.[fifteen].

The aforementioned atrazine herbicide has been found to cause changes in the reproductive system of frogs, turning male frogs into females.

(Video) What Is SOIL POLLUTION | LAND POLLUTION | What Causes Soil Pollution | Dr Binocs Show |Peekaboo Kidz

The high cost of filtering pesticides in effluent treatment stations ends up being borne by the consumer of drinking water and one must ask whether this is a fair division of the cost or whether the agro-specialist responsible for contamination needs to bear the cost, resulting in a higher cost likelihood of more responsible decision-making.

The US Department of Agriculture estimates the cost of treating wastewater to remove these nitrates at $1.7 billion per year. The cost of treating well water in situations where contamination was discovered by neighbors was US$1.12 billion between 1991 and 2004. And the healthcare cost of treating the resulting respiratory illnesses was US$23.10 for each kilogram of nitrogen used in 2016 in the United States.[sixteen].

Overgrazing also causesloss of natural vegetationand soil compaction, upsetting the balance of natural microorganisms and often promoting the growth of harmful bacteria and contributing to problems caused by erosion.[17].


Industrial activities often release waste and toxic materials into the soil or atmosphere, where they are deposited in the soil. Although most developed countries today regulate emissions and discharges at home, regulations offset the costs to industry and do not necessarily adequately protect the integrity of our biosphere, or human health in particular.

Furthermore, many developing countries have little or no regulation in place.

For example, although cassava is the third most consumed carbohydrate in the world, the practice of dumping its toxic by-products, i.e. hazardous solid and liquid waste, directly into the soil continues in Nigeria today.

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A recent study of the effects of dumping cassava on soil revealed many harmful effects on former farmland. Heavy metals cause harmful changes in the microbiological, mineral and physicochemical composition of soils in close proximity to plants[18].


Forty percent of the world's mines areclear mines.Here the earth is excavated or mined to get to the mineral veins. The remainder of the extraction is done underground, with pillars supporting the earth while the underground work is carried out, eventually being removed or simply allowed to collapse.

The open pit mine obviously removes the topsoil and contributes to erosion. In many developed countries, regulations now require thisclaim the landwhen the project is complete.

A 2004 study showed that China's overall land reclamation rate for its open pit mining operations was just 10 to 12 percent. And one problem with reclamation is that the land is so degraded that it often cannot support newly planted growth. Studies in western US states have shown success rates in acquiring new seedlings between ten and thirty percent.[19].

Underground mining brings a large amount of soil and rocky debris to the surface, where it is left behind. These residues often become toxic when exposed to air and water.

Another impact on soil contamination is coal fires. Underground coal fires, a major problem in many countries, can burn for centuries, releasing toxic gases such as mercury, arsenic, fluorine and selenium, and releasing fly ash through their cracks and cracks, which then settles into the earth.

landfills and waste

Construction of a sanitary landfill is usually overseen by a government agency responsible for solid waste disposal and involves compliance with regulations to protect the leaching of its contents into the soil. However, clay or plastic coatings often fail over time or naturally when compromised by the structure running through them.

One of the most famous environmental violations in the United States, Love Canal, while not an isolated incident, involved the destruction of a toxic waste dump that caused miscarriages, nervous disorders, cancer, and an unusually high number of birth defects and human deformities. before being discovered. The Love Canal incident was a major impetus for passage of the Superfund Act, a law requiring strict liability, which means non-negotiable liability for injuries and damage resulting from coming into contact with spilled toxic content.

The main causes of soil pollution | greenfall (7)

Love Canal was an abandoned canal project that was converted into a hazardous waste landfill in the 1950s. It was later given to the local school district by chemical company owners for $1, with full disclosure of the chemicals, which were buried underground, subject to a continuing release of liability.

The school board built a school and playground over the landfill and sold the surrounding property to developers and private landlords. Heavy rains and construction work that breached the walls of the landfill's clay pond caused the release of drums of toxic chemicals that children played in and the seepage of toxic chemicals into the groundwater. , terraces and basements and nearby sewers, the latter recycled through drinking water treatment plants.

Faced with public outcry over the smelly, oily water in their backyards and basements, local journalists began investigating. Their investigations revealed a cocktail of toxic inorganic chemicals, including benzene, chloroform, toluene, dioxins and PCBs.[20].

Landfill liners are not foolproof and the liquid that oozes from them is toxic. Linings are usually made of thick plastic and will deteriorate over time. Even the EPA has concluded that any liner will leak over time.[21]. The liquid that leaks from landfills is well knownas leachate, often a highly toxic liquid containing many chemicals resistant to normal wastewater treatment.

Landfill regulations mandate actions that must be taken to remove leachate from landfills during their years of operation and after closure, but the reality is that while leachate may take years to reach groundwater, it eventually will.

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The United States is facing a very big problem at the Hanford nuclear waste facility. It appears that the two-layer tanks in which radioactive waste is stored are leaking. The leaching of carcinogenic radioactive isotopes into the ground just five miles from the mighty Columbia River.[22].


Urbanization contributes to soil degradationin many ways, including the negative impacts of building on land, the exclusion and destruction of habitats for animals and species, and the increased demand for waste disposal, which typically means that larger urban landfills are removed.

A city planner examined other needs that land offers people and estimated in 1996 that the land needed to feed London's people, supply its wood products and resume its CO2 emissions in areas with growing vegetation was 125 times the size of the City.[23].

(Video) 10 Main Causes of Soil pollution

That said, many people eat the same amount of food everywhere and require the same amount of other resources, perhaps even less when it comes to housing, and given the greater availability of public transport, it may well have less carbon emissions and being greener are smaller.


Driving on any road shows that humans contribute to land degradation through littering. Oils, paints and other hazardous household waste dumped on the streets are not so obvious because they are not accepted by most household garbage collectors.

On a larger scale, due to the high cost of legally disposing of hazardous waste, the illegal cross-border flow of toxic waste is now recognized as one of the most significant crimes committed by criminal organizations worldwide and as low risk as it is difficult to clean up. monitor[24].

One of the preferred landfill areas is road construction sites. Because materials are buried and not visible, recent studies of the location of hazardous waste sites have examined the impact of an increase in the number of streets on certain health outcomes for those who live nearby, specifically: infant mortality, hemoglobin levels, and anemia. severe in children younger than 3 years. five years old[25].

Land pollution is also caused by debris brought ashore by ships, oil rigs and sewage, known as marine debris.[26].

The main causes of soil pollution | greenfall (9)

Ways to reduce soil contamination

Economic incentives must be created for farmers in the forest line to intensify their production without expanding their areas by clearing forests.[27]. Governments could invest money in researching higher-yielding tropical plant varieties and then develop policies such as subsidized seeds to encourage their use.

Local advice centers can provide farmers with more informationsustainable practicessuch as conservation tillage, secondary crops,crop rotationand adding crop residues to increase soil fertility instead of fertilizers that cause greenhouse gas emissions and pollute land, water and air.

The main causes of soil pollution | greenfall (10)

Forest dwellers could learn how to stop pollution by learning other income methods that do not threaten forest habitat, such as ecotourism in its purest sense or small businesses that capture and replace sustainable amounts of forest resources. .

Insisting on organic food would be a good start to reduce the negative impact of agriculture in the country. It would make sense to call for sustainable practices that help regenerate the land and restore a community of beneficial organisms among crops. Zoning regulations requiring biodiversity havens on the edges of farmland would certainly help encourage the natural balance of life where crickets, frogs and pollinators can help make the land more productive once toxic chemicals are no longer in the equation.

The populationeat less meatIt would do a lot to reduce the need for animal feed and pasture.

We need to consume less.Many of the industries that cause pollution would become obsolete.

We must be diligent in ensuring that stringent legislation is in place, requiring the best pollution control technologies imaginable, meeting stringent pollutant emission standards and ensuring that they are adhered to. This also applies to regulations on mining and industrial waste and solid and hazardous waste disposal.

The world's population needs to be educated about the health dangers of these pollutants in order to make them aware of what is happening and the importance of participating. Only with the right knowledge can we focus on the necessary prevention of terrestrial and global pollution in general.

One way is to call on religious leaders to help educate their followers. There is often a dichotomy on environmental issues, as evolutionary theory invites a simple separation between science and religion, but this gap must be closed if we are to reach a common goal. Solution.

To people who cause species extinction and destroy the biodiversity of God's creation, to people who compromise the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, robbing the land of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands, to people who... Contaminating the waters of the earth, its soil, air and life with poisonous substances is a sin.

Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians

We can all join this in spirit.

[18] -mill-2375-4397-1000177.php?aid=81391
[21] 47 Federal Reg. (July 26, 1982) pp. 32284-32285.
[23]The Atlas of the Cities of Gaia,Girardet, Herbert, Gaia Books, Ltd, Londres, 1996, S. 24.

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