Soil pollution is defined as the presence toxic chemicals in soil, in high enough concentrations to pose a risk to human health and the ecosystem. In case of contaminants which occur naturally in soil, even when their levels are not high enough a poise a risk.
Soil pollution causes
All soils whether polluted or unpolluted contain a variety of compounds which are naturally present. Such contaminants include phosphates, carbonates and many organic compounds. When the amounts of soil contaminants exceed natural levels pollution is generated. There are main two causes through which soil pollution is generated viz, man made causes and natural causes.
1) Man made pollutants
Man made contaminants are the main causes of soil pollution and consist of a large variety of contaminants or chemicals, both organic and inorganic. They can pollute the soil either alone or combined with several natural soil contaminants. Man made soil pollution is usually caused by the improper disposal of waste coming from industrial and urban sources, industrial activities and agricultural pesticides. Transportation activities releasing toxic vehicle emissions. Cracked point chips falling from building walls, especially lead based point. Chemical waste dumping whether accidental or delibrate such as illegal dumping.
2) Natural pollutants
Natural processes can lead to an accumulation of toxic chemicals in the soil. This type of contamination has only been recorded in a few cases such as the accumulation of higher levels of perchlorate in soil from the Atacama Desert in Chile, a type of accumulation which is purely due to natural processes in acid environments. Natural production in soil under certain environmental conditions natural formation of perchlorate in soil in the presence of a chlorine source, metallic object and using the energy generated by a thunderstorm. Leaks from sewer lines into subsurface.
Types of soil pollutants
Soil pollution consists of pollutants and contaminants. The main pollutants of the soil are the biological agents and some of the human activities. Soil contaminants are all products of soil pollutants that contaminate the soil. Human activities that pollute the soil range from agricultural practices that infest the crops with pesticide chemicals to urban or industrial wastes or radioactive emissions that contaminate the soil with various toxic substances.
Effects of soil pollution
Soil pollution affects plants, animals and humans. However , children are usually more susceptible to exposure to contaminants, because they come in close contact with the soil by playing in the ground; combined with lower thresholds for disease, this triggers higher risks than for adults. Therefore, it is always important to test the soil before allowing your kids to play there, especially if you live in a highly industrialized area.
Humans can be affected by soil pollution through the inhalation of gases emitted from soils moving upward or through the inhalation of matter that is disturbed and transported by the wind because of the various human activities on the ground. Diseases starting with headaches, fatigue, eye irritation and skin rash also affects on nervous system, kidney and liver damage.