What on earth is not polluted? How much is this bothering us and our coming generations? We need to ready when generations come to point our fingers at contaminating the earth so badly. Even soil, the wealthiest form of earth polluted, how? Let us see what are the soil pollution, its causes, types, prevention, and effects.
What is soil pollution?
Soil pollution is the excess amount of chemicals in the soil that is toxic to the environment and its inhabitants. These additions mostly result from human activities such as mining, modern practices in agriculture, deforestation, indiscriminate dumping of human-generated waste, and irregular disposal of untreated wastes from various industries.
Pollution by agricultural methods has increased ever since the demand for food has increased, in proportion to the increase in population. Farmers have had to resort to additional chemical fertilizers, pesticides, weed pesticides, hormonal treatments for livestock, nutrient-rich fodder, and many practices that have changed the way farming has been done to increase farm and farm yields.
Causes of Soil Pollution
Indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers
These are mostly nitrogen and phosphorus-based chemicals such as ammonia and nitrates that most often used in excess of the required amount and deposited in the soil.
If a good crop is taken, then the control of pests needed by the farmer. Pesticides and insecticides such as organochlorine, organophosphates, and carbonates used regularly. These contaminate the land not only in fields, but also in places of construction, storage, and disposal. They also tend to bioaccumulate i.e. they get collect in the bodies of insects and then enter the food chain and lead to chronic poisoning of high-level animals. Some pesticides also naturally absorb by plants and their various parts stored.
Cadmium, fluoride, radioactive elements such as uranium are regularly found in basic minerals from which fertilizers are derived. Zinc waste from the steel industries uses hazardous metals such as mercury, lead, arsenic, chromium, and nickel as fertilizers. These often not remove due to the high cost involved.
Excessive tillage of land
Overturning, digging, or stirring causes the release of greenhouse gases produced in the ground, such as nitrous oxide.
The soil becomes infertile due to the loss of soil material due to poor management. Soil erosion follows by deforestation, stormwater runoff, overflow, and overflow of agricultural practices, construction, mining. Due to the sedimentation of soil settling elsewhere in land or water, there is a difference in the atmosphere there. In water, it causes reduced visibility for fish and other animals that are the source of their food. This leads to less penetration of sunlight and affects the process of photosynthesis leading to a decrease in the oxygen level of water. Heavy pollutants and nutrients bound to the sediment particles and carry them into contaminated water. The rapid rate of soil erosion changes the topography of a place.
Disposal of manure and other associated wastes from animal farms is also a cause of soil pollution. They cause pollution of water as well as air. It said that 18 percent of greenhouse gases produced by agricultural animals. Manufactured manure in large quantities carries pathogens which are also harmful to humans.
Landfill and other waste dumping issues.
Human-caused sewage is a major cause of soil pollution. At the same time waste products such as plastic, glass, metals, batteries, paper, fiber, and rubber, etc. add to the contamination as most of them are non-biodegradable. Many wastes can recycle such as paper, metal, and glass, etc. Leaching of toxins occurs in landfills. The more dangerous substances found in landfills are oil, battery metals, smelting industries, and heavy metals from organic solvents.
Air pollutants, along with sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, and other rainwater, make acids and reach the soil. This is called acid rain. This lowers the pH of the soil i.e. it makes it acidic. It replaces the nutrient content of the soil. These changes adversely affect the plants that grow here, insects and other animals depend on the ground.
Types of Soil Pollution
Leaching and groundwater poisoning
When the chemical accumulates in the soil, depending on the solubility of the water and the composition of the soil, it spreads through the groundwater, causing its pollution. It also depends on rainfall. For example, after applying pesticides to crops in sandy areas, if highly irrigated, pesticide chemicals move into the ground. Leaching occurs not only in farms but also at manufacturing, mixing, and disposal sites.
Only a fraction of fertilizers and other chemical additives used on farms. The major bulk runoff mixed with water and flows into nearby cisterns. It is mainly in the form of nitrate and phosphate.
Desertification of land
Many times, the land becomes barren and cannot support any flora or fauna on it. Excessive fertilizer use progressively reduces the nutrient content of foods such as proteins and vitamins in cereals and vegetables.
Effects of soil pollution
Since soil pollution is not a single permanent entity, its effects are in the form of water pollution and air pollution. It affects every aspect of the environment and every organism from earthworms to humans. Some adverse effects are as follows:
Since we depend on the land for our food, the pollution from the soil gets transferred to us in this way. There is bioaccumulation of toxins in our body, which leads to chronic toxicity, and causes various diseases. Mutation in body cells leading to reproductive health, birth and developmental defects, neurological effects, malnutrition, and cancer; All these are increasing today.
Plants will not be able to adapt to sudden changes in the soil. The fungi and bacteria found in the soil cannot bind the soil due to chemical changes and this causes soil erosion. Large tracts of land become barren; Unable to support any life at that. Even plants growing on these lands will absorb toxins and transfer to the food chain.
Poisonous dust originates from landfills with foul odors, polluting the air and adversely affecting those who live near them.
Prevention of soil pollution
- Management and regulation of chemical waste disposal by industries is critical to soil health. Waste treatment must be done before disposal to remove chemicals and heavy metals at any cost
- Prevention can never be a single effort. State governments, farmer organizations, collectives and cooperatives, educational institutions, and conservation groups need to work together to regulate and reduce soil pollution related to farming.
- Planning the application of fertilizer in the right ways at the right time can reduce the accumulation of chemicals.
- Planting some grasses and clover that can absorb and recycle excess nutrients and prevent soil erosion. Planting rows of trees and shrubs around the fields and along the boundaries of the stream or lake also help.
- To prevent soil erosion and soil compaction, an excessive amount of soil should be avoided.
- Managing the correct disposal of human and animal waste and treating sewage before release makes a huge difference in the magnitude of soil and water pollution
- There are various methods of composting, solid-liquid separation, anaerobic digestion, and management of lagoon animal manure. Of this, anaerobic digestion is the most effective. This includes the use of anaerobic bacteria and heat. The products of this process are nutrient-rich liquids used as fertilizer and methane gas that can be burned to produce electricity and heat. Anaerobic digestion is the best method for controlling odors associated with manure management.
- It is always good to cut or plant more trees to bind the soil.
Since every organism is dependent on the land for its nutrition, everyone is affected. As soil pollution continues unabated, malnutrition is a real phenomenon. The irony of the high yield of crops versus declining nutritional content is lost on many of them, who are in a position to bring about change. Soil pollution also causes heavy economic losses. Medical expenditure, the rising cost of dwindling stock of food, famine are all realities to be faced.
Much research and technological progress is helping to control soil pollution. Farmers are opposing more traditional organic methods of farming so as to remove the damage done to the land. Rigid indigenous plants are now being re-grown instead of hybrid ones. As awareness of one’s environment increases, all should follow the motto of Recycle, Reduce, and Reuse. We have to reduce the consumerist and increase the protectionist.