"And Man created the plastic bag and the tin and aluminum can and the cellophane wrapper and the paper plate, and this was good because Man could then take his automobile and buy all his food in one place and He could save that which was good to eat in the refrigerator and throw away that which had no further use....
And soon the earth was covered with plastic bags and aluminum cans and paper plates and disposable bottles and there was nowhere to sit down or walk, and Man shook his head and cried: "Look at this Godawful mess''." ~ Art Buchwald, 1970
Soil pollution is the most sensitive environmental issues today! The quote mentioned earlier was written 4 decades ago, and today we can see it happening. Humans are the creators of pollution, be it air, water, or pollution of the soil! With all of us being aware of the severity of soil problems, it is high time now to take care and protect Mother Earth!
What is Soil Pollution
Soil is the layer that covers the earth's surface with both organic and inorganic materials, wherein the organic materials are present in the topmost layer which consists of the decayed remains of flora and fauna, and the inorganic materials would be the rocks which are formed by various physical and chemical changes in the bedrock.
The soil is said to be polluted when the productive layer of soil is contaminated by the human made chemicals, which results in altering the natural properties and productivity of the soil. This can severely affect the flora and fauna on the earth, including the human health!
Causes of Soil Pollution
The main causes for soil pollution include human activities towards 'modernization and technological advancements', that has resulted in massive increase in soil contamination. Here is a list of some of the causes:
- Indiscriminate use of NPK fertilizers or mixed fertilizers containing harmful non-degradable metals and chemicals.
- Leakage of underground septic tanks into the soil.
- Harmful chemical fumes mixed up with rain, causing the acid rain to fall on the soil which contaminates it severely.
- Use of non-decomposable items like polythene bags which ends up in land fill.
From the aforementioned list of causes of pollution in soil, isn't it clear that all these are originated from human activities! If this remains the case, what will be the scenario that the future generations will come across?
Effects of Soil Pollution
It goes without saying that land pollution effects will be, and still are, at the edge of being fatal! Here are the effects of polluted soil and how it affects the different sections of the living environment! Have a look...
Ill Effects on Agriculture
The food that we eat, everything that we consume in order to live, is originated from agriculture, wherein, soil being the base of a healthy agriculture. Have a look at its ill effects on agriculture!
- Loss of nutrients in the soil
- Soil erosion
- Less fertile land for vegetation
- Reduction in crop yield
- Reduction in nitrogen fixation
Ill Effects on Ecosystem
Contamination of soil will definitely have adverse effects on the ecosystem which are discussed as follows.
- Ecological Imbalance
- Permanent change in the chemical properties of soil
- Alteration in the metabolism of endemic microorganisms resulting in eradication of the primary food chain, which is inter related with the existence of each and every organism in the world, including humans!
- Absence of health in all consumers. It is already evident that due to consumption of DDT affected crops, the egg shells of hens have become weak.
Ill Effects on 'Our Life'!
It is sad, but we humans tend to avoid alarming signals, until we are the ones who suffer the consequences. Here are such effects of soil contamination, which are still visible in some places.
- Pollution in drinking water
- Contamination in vegetation due to presence of chemicals
- Problems of waste management
- Polluted environment with harmful gases to breathe in along with foul smell in the environment.
- Health issues
Controlling Soil Pollution
Even though the current situation is quite bad, we can still handle it before it gets worse. Here are some thoughtful as well as easy steps which can help in fighting against, or curbing the rate at which the soil is getting polluted day by day.
- Minimize or BAN the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Natural and organic pesticides and fertilizers can be used instead!
- Recycling of materials will also help control land pollution by minimizing garbage dumps and save natural resources.
- Plantation of trees as much as possible will help absorb the harmful chemicals and prevent soil erosion.
- Adopting proper waste management techniques for industrial wastes. Treating them biologically to make them less harmful can be the first step for effective waste management for decreasing soil contamination.
- Use of thermal remediation in order to raise the temperature of the subsurface of the soil so high that the harmful chemicals are extracted from the soil through vapor extraction.
- Unearth the contaminated soil and carry it away from the human resident areas.
- Substituting the use of chemicals with organic and biodegradable materials.
Please contribute your bit before it's too late, and all there would be left for man to do is to 'shake his head and cry'! Start now, in your own little way, and save your planet..., save our planet! All the best!