Soil pollution is the change in soil's physical, chemical, and biological conditions through increased concentration of harmful chemical compounds. Soil contains a certain amount of toxic compounds in its original state.
However, when the concentration of these chemicals is high enough to damage living organisms, the soil is considered polluted.
What are the Causes of Soil Pollution?
There are two leading causes of soil pollution, natural and human activities:
- Natural calamities as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and volcanic eruptions can cause soil pollution.
- Human activities as mining, dumping untreated industrial and urban waste into the soil, excessive use of pesticides or fertilizers, and improper agricultural practices, construction, and spillage of petroleum products mainly cause soil pollution.
What are the Effects of Soil Pollution?
Soil pollution directly affects the ecosystem, plants, animals, and humans:
- Soil contaminants can be carried into the atmosphere and water bodies by wind or seep into the underground water table and cause water and air pollution.
- Increased concentration of toxic compounds in soil inhibits the growth of useful microbes and insects, deteriorating soil texture and fertility.
- Plants that grow in polluted soil accumulate contaminants, which affect the plant's yield and growth. When a herbivore consumes the affected plant, it may sicken and die.
- Soil contaminants may enter the human body through direct contact with the soil or through the inhalation of soil dust.
- The various diseases caused by these contaminants in humans include skin and eye irritation, cough, wheezing, neuromuscular blockage, kidney and liver damage.