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Soil Pollution

The upper layer of the unsaturated zone of earth is the soil. Soil is the natural body made of mineral and organic constituents. It is produced by solid material recycling and complex processes of solid crust modifications. Soil offers shelter, habitat for numerous organisms and is the living medium for plants. Soil is the basis for agriculture. All vegetation for human food and animal feed depend upon soil.

En
ormous quantities of waste from man-made products are being released into the soil causing soil pollution. Polluted water also causes soil pollution. Soil pollution is caused due to unhygienic habits, agricultural practices and inappropriate methods of disposal of solid and liquid wastes. Soil pollution is a also caused as a result of atmospheric pollution. 



In industrialized countries, soil pollution is a result of use of chemicals in agriculture, dumping of waste materials, mining, smelting of metals and also dumping of domestic refuse and solids, untreated sewage and industrial wastes. 

 

What is Soil Pollution

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Soil pollution is defined as the contamination of soil in a particular region. Soil pollution is a result of penetration of harmful pesticides and insecticides that deteriorate the soil quality making it unfit for later use. Soil contamination is caused by xenobiotic components or alteration of natural environment. This is usually caused by industrial activity, agricultural chemicals and improper disposal of waste. The most common pollutants are petroleum, polynuclear aromatic carbons, hydrocarbons, solvents, pesticides, lead and other heavy metals

Types of Soil Pollution

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Soil pollution may be any chemicals or contaminants that harm living organisms. Pollutants decrease soil quality and also disturb the soil's natural composition and also leads to erosion of soil. Types of soil pollution can be distinguished by the source of the contaminant and its effects of the ecosystem. Types of soil pollution may be agricultural pollution, Industrial wastes and urban activities. 

Agricultural Pollution 

  • Agricultural processes contribute to soil pollution. 
  • Fertilizers increase crop yield and also cause pollution that impacts soil quality. 
  • Pesticides also harm plants and animals by contaminating the soil. 
  • These chemicals get deep inside the soil and poison the ground water system. 
  • Runoff of these chemicals by rain and irrigation also contaminate the local water system and is deposited at other locations. 

Industrial Waste

  • About 90% of oil pollution is caused by industrial waste products. 
  • Improper disposal of waste contaminates the soil with harmful chemicals. 
  • These pollutants affect plant and animal species and local water supplies and drinking water. 
  • Toxic fumes from the regulated landfills contain chemicals that can fall back to the earth in the form of acid rain and can damage the soil profile. 

Urban Activities 

  • Human activities can lead to soil pollution directly and indirectly. 
  • Improper drainage and increase run-off contaminates the nearby land areas or streams. 
  • Improper disposal of trash breaks down into the soil and it deposits in a number of chemical and pollutants into the soil. These may again seep into groundwater or wash away in local water system. 
  • Excess waste deposition increases the presence of bacteria in the soil. 
  • Decomposition by bacteria generates methane gas contributing to global warming and poor air quality. It also creates foul odors and can impact quality of life. 

Causes of Soil Pollution

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Soil Pollution is a result of many activities by mankind which contaminate the soil. Some the causes of soil pollution can be as follows:
  • Industrial effluents like harmful gases and chemicals. 
  • Use of chemicals in agriculture like pesticides, fertilizers and insecticides.
  • Improper or ineffective soil management system. 
  • Unfavorable irrigation practices.
  • Improper management and maintenance of septic system.
  • Sanitary waste leakage. 
  • Toxic fumes from industries get mixed with rains causing acid rains. 
  • Leakages of fuel fro automobiles are washed off due to rains and are deposited in the nearby soil.
  • Unhealthy waste management techniques release sewage into dumping grounds and nearby water bodies. 
  • Use of pesticides in agriculture retains chemicals in the environment for a long time. These chemicals also effect beneficial organisms like earthworm in the soil and lead to poor soil quality.
  • Absence of proper garbage disposal system leads to scattered garbage in the soil. These contaminants can block passage of water into the soil and affects its water holding capacity.
  • Unscientific disposal of nuclear waste contaminate soil and can cause mutations.
  • Night soil contamination due to improper sanitary system in villages can cause harmful diseases.

Effects of Soil Pollution

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Soil pollution causes huge disturbances in the ecological balance and health of living organisms at an alarming rate. Some the effects of soil pollution are:
  • Reduced soil fertility hence decrease in soil yield. 
  • Loss of natural nutrients in soil. 
  • Reduced nitrogen fixation.
  • Loss of soil and nutrients.
  • Increased soil erosion.
  • Imbalance in the flora and fauna of the soil.
  • Increase in soil salinity, makes it unfit for cultivation.
  • Creation of toxic dust. 
  • Foul odor due to industrial chemicals and gases. 
  • Alteration in soil structure can lead to death of organisms in it.  

Control of Soil Pollution

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A few methods to control soil pollution are:
  • Reducing the use of chemical fertilizer and pesticides.
  • Recycling paper, plastics and other materials. 
  • Ban on use of plastic bags, which are a major cause of pollution. 
  • Reusing materials.
  • Avoiding deforestation and promoting forestation.
  • Suitable and safe disposal of wastes including nuclear wastes. 
  • Chemical fertilizers and pesticides should be replaced by organic fertilizers and pesticides. 
  • Encouraging social and agro forestry programs.
  • Undertaking many pollution awareness programs. 
More topics in Soil Pollution
Effects of Soil Pollution
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