Life on earth exists in a very delicate balance, where soil, air, and water sustain not only human life, but the entire ecosystem. Any imbalance in this ecosystem due to environmental deterioration results in contamination and sets off a chain of disruption that affects all patterns of existence. Soil pollution is a reality today with as severe repercussions as water and air pollution. Its effects are becoming increasingly visible with each passing day, for instance, crop failure. Before that, what you need to understand are some essential soil pollution facts.
- It starts with the flawed concept of throwing trash on the roadsides, i.e., the dustbins are dumped in unused yards outside city limits or in open fields.
- Besides, the tons household plastic, industrial dumping of man-made chemicals is also done.
- As hard as it may be to believe, giant chemical companies dig up large holes, throw the waste in, and cover it back up! This sad reality is not just restricted to developing countries, but highly developed and advanced countries as well.
- Agricultural advancement has also played a part in laying many a green pastures barren. The need for high yield coupled with greed has witnessed incessant and discriminant use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers has stripped the soil of its natural pH balance as well as its ability to replenish itself naturally, leading to increased erosion.
- Other causes include the rupture of underground storage tanks, seepage of contaminated surface water to subsurface strata, chemicals, industrial wastes, and oil and fuel dumping.
- Major chemical pollutants are petroleum hydrocarbons, solvents, and other heavy metals.
- Soil is a non-renewable resource with more potential to degrade.
- According to the study published by the European Commission in April 2002, among other major threats, decline in organic matter and contamination needs immediate attention.
- One of the most severe complications of this pollution is that the chemicals from the soil will contaminate the crops grown on them, and also the groundwater that is used for drinking.
- The same contaminated soil also has the potential to seep into large water bodies, which will have an effect on the overall ecosystem, thus, becoming a major environmental issue.
- In most countries that have very little control pollutant dumping, or have laws that can be conveniently bent, contamination takes place with over a hundred odd active pesticides that damage the immune and endocrine systems, causing cancer, multiple birth defects, and gene mutation, not only in humans, but also in animals as well.
- In U.S. alone, millions of tons of chemical waste is being dumped in the soil and sea, and also spewed in air resulting in long-term adverse implications on life in general.
- Farms are using an excess of nitrogen to increase productivity, and although nitrogen is essential for plant growth, too much of it results in nitrate pollution in the crops and ground water.
- Developed and developing countries have now put a major legal framework and clean-up program in place to deal with this problem.
- One of the important facts is that at the end of the day, figures and who is responsible won't matter, what will matter is how long will it take us and the generation to come to clean the mess, that is, if there is anything left to save.