Introduction to soil pollution
- Land and soil are very essential for the survival and maintenance of living organisms including man.
- Soil supports vegetation on which every living animal depends.
- However, like air and water, soil may also get polluted.
- There are many natural and synthetic materials that can adversely affect the physical, chemical and biological properties of soil and seriously affect its productivity.
- Therefore, any substance that reduces the productivity of soil is called pollutant and such soil is called polluted soil.
Image source: indiacelebrating
Causes of soil pollution
- The soil pollution is usually caused by solid wastes and chemicals.
i) Domestic wastes
- These are kitchen, packing and building materials like containers of tin, plastics, polythenes, glass, paper cardboard, rubber, cloth, leather, etc.
- All these wastes are thrown out as garbage.
- Some of them are easily degradable by the activity of microorganisms in nature and the materials are recycled.
- But, some are not easily degraded like metals, plastics, nylons, and polythenes.
ii) Industrial wastes
- It includes concrete, tin, iron, lead, aluminium, etc.
- Many of the chemicals released by industries such as radioactive minerals, sulphur, penetrate the soil and the soil becomes unproductive.
iii) Agricultural chemicals
- Excessive use of pesticides, herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers in agricultural practices may inhibit the processes of soil formation.
- These chemicals may also reduce the fertility of soil.
iv) Acid rain affects the physio-chemical composition of soil.
v) The excretory product of human and livestock used as manure also pollute the soil.
vi) Increase in the concentration of soluble salt causes salinization which reduces the productivity of the soil.
Effects of soil pollution
- Soil pollution can have a number of harmful effects on humans, plants, animal health and ecosystems.
- Many soil pollutants contain various carcinogenic agents that are responsible for causing cancer in human beings.
- Neuro-muscular blockage might occur along with depression of the CNS, headaches, nausea, fatigue, eye irritation, skin rash in humans.
- Acid rain and other chemicals reduce the fertility of soil.
- The structure and fertility of soil are greatly affected by soil pollution.
- Several chemicals are absorbed by the plants that affect the entire food chains.
- Salinity of the soil reduces fertility and degrades the quality of the soil.
- Waste contains several disease germs which contaminate the soil, crops and vegetables causing several types of health hazards.
- Excessive use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers cause death of microorganisms, animals and certain plants.
Image source: towardsfreedom
Control of soil pollution
- Recycling and proper utilization of garbage and wastes in energy production. For example: fuel wood preparation from garbage. Paper making from paper wastes.
- Controlled use of herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides.
- Pneumatic pipes should be laid for collection and disposal of wastes.
- Biological and genetical control should be used for production of biogas.
- Animal refuge should be used for production of biogas.
- By limiting the wastes disposal in land resources
- Garbage should be buried under the soil.
- Public awareness should be created regarding bad impacts of soil pollution to different forms of life.