Soil Contamination: Causes, Effects and Prevention | TDS (2023)

When many of us think about pollution, images of smoggy cities and garbage-polluted oceans come to mind. In the 21st century, there is not a single surface or space on Earth that has not been affected in some way. While garbage and gasoline-powered cars are major contributors to pollution, there are many other influences to consider. To begin with, it helps to understand the basics of what pollution is. Pollution essentially occurs when substances are released into the environment that have harmful effects and affect the quality of land, water, and air. In this post, we mainly focus on land pollution.

What is soil pollution?

Soil pollution refers to the degradation of land surfaces at and below the surface. It is caused by the accumulation of solid and liquid waste that contaminates groundwater and soil. These waste materials are often referred to as municipal solid waste (MSW), which includes both hazardous and non-hazardous waste.

When debris is deposited on the land surface, the permeability of soil formations beneath the debris can increase or decrease the risk of soil contamination. The higher the permeability of the soil, the greater the probability of soil contamination. Therefore, theTexas Disposal Systems Landfill, located just outside of Austin, Texas, is built in an ideal area. By using the country's natural shale and clay, the risk of soil contamination has been significantly reduced. the TDSaustin embankmentcombines natural and man-made barriers to comply with strict environmental regulations. The landfill structure features a performance based liner system with a sludge collection system and thick recompacted clay side liners. The liner system easily meets today's required performance-based landfill liner system standards, as well asEPAIt's inTCEQ.

It was not until the middle of the 20th century that solid waste was collected respecting the environment. Prior to this, garbage was usually left on the ground in "open dumps", leading to rats, mosquitoes and other diseases, as well as foul odors and windblown debris. However, while significantly safer waste disposal practices are now in place, there are still many other factors that contribute to and exacerbate the situation.

The main causes of soil contamination.

While there are many causes of soil contamination, here are some of the main ones:

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to throw

Unfortunately, littering, the improper disposal of waste products, is widespread. According to a study by Litter in America, garbage disposal is costing the United States more than estimated.$11.5 billionevery year. Every cigarette butt dropped on the ground or food wrapper thrown out a car window is a small contribution to a monumental problem. According to Keep America Beautiful,76% of the garbage is found in the streetsThey are pedestrians and drivers. However, not all waste is intentional. A lot of trash also comes from loose objects that fall from the back of vehicles or from trash cans.

illegal evictionit also contributes to soil contamination. People often illegally dump trash in places like woods, open fields, and ditches instead of approved dumpsites. Common types of illegally dumped waste include asbestos waste, automobile waste, and waste that can be recycled or reused.

All waste, intentional or not, causes pollution by releasing chemicals and microparticles as it decomposes. take a look at our bloggarbageto learn more about the impact of litter and how to reduce it in your community.

urbanization and construction

Although urbanization itself is not garbage, large crowds of people living in a densely populated area, producing garbage and creating garbage, inevitably lead to soil pollution. To accommodate this growing population, construction activities are also taking place, generating large amounts of waste such as metal, plastic, wood, and brick. If these materials are not disposed of properly, they contribute to soil contamination in that area.

To reduce the environmental impact of construction sites, it is important to work with partners that offer complete solutionssolutions for buildersfor profitable recycling and construction waste management plans.

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Mining is the extraction of minerals and other geological materials from the ground, which are used for a variety of purposes, including but not limited to making gasoline for cars, generating electricity, and selling materials such as gold and silver. However, this mining and the methods used deplete the land of its natural resources and cause damage and pollution. That's why finding energy alternatives (think solar and wind power) that aren't extracted from the earth's surface is so important to reducing future earth pollution.


Agriculture is fundamental both to daily life and to the economy as a whole. However, it can also have profound effects on the planet. Agricultural pollution occurs when pollution produced as a by-product of raising livestock and growing food is released into the environment, and the contamination is massive.

Effects of soil contamination

Soil contamination affects essentially all areas of the living world, including:

  • water that is not drinkable
  • Contaminated soils leading to loss of fertile land for agriculture
  • Climate change causes a spate of catastrophic problems, including flash floods and erratic rainfall
  • The danger and extinction of species in the animal world
  • Habitat displacement, in which some animals are forced to flee their place of residence in order to survive
  • An increase in wildfires as contaminated areas often become very dry.
  • Increased air pollution, to which waste incineration contributes
  • High levels of soil contaminants can enter the body through the food chain and cause health problems.

How to prevent soil contamination

Given the disastrous effects of soil contamination, it is crucial to take preventative measures to reduce its impact in the future.

Use of fewer pesticides and chemicals in agriculture

Since the use of pesticides and chemicals in livestock and agriculture contributes greatly to soil contamination, finding alternatives will help reduce environmental contamination. For example, farmers can use natural ingredients when switching from organic fertilizer to manure.

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On an individual level, supporting environmentally conscious local farmers at your nearest local farmers market or supermarket can help build a business for farmers using more sustainable farming practices. Another option is to get involved with a municipal garden in your neighborhood or become a volunteer.

Forest repopulation

Reforestation consists of replanting an area with trees. For example, this may be necessary for areas that have experienced wildfires or where trees have been felled and crushed. This process helps bind the soil together, which helps protect it from soil contamination.and prevents soil erosion and flooding.

Solid Waste Treatments

If not managed properly, solid waste can increase toxicity and hazardous substances in the soil. Chemical treatment methods in a controlled environment can help reduce soil contamination. This solid waste treatment process includes neutralization. This treatment alters the pH of the waste before it is sent to the landfill.

Reduce, reuse and recycle

On an individual level, there are many things we can do to reduce our contribution to soil pollution. One of the easiest ways to do this is to reuse or recycle items so you don't create waste of a material or item that still serves a purpose. With the growing awareness aroundthat can be recycledand an increase in bins in many cities, recycling has never been easier. Another way to reduce soil contamination is throughcomposting. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, food scraps and yard waste together currently account for more than30%what we throw away that could be composted. Reducing and reusing waste products ensures that the environment is not wasted.

If you want to make a difference at the community level, check out our blog posthow to be an ecologistin your neighborhood

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What are the causes and effects of soil contamination? ›

When the concentration of one or more such toxic substances is high enough to cause damage to living organisms, the soil is said to be contaminated. The root cause of soil pollution is often one of the following: Agriculture (excessive/improper use of pesticides) Excessive industrial activity.

What is soil pollution causes effects and prevention? ›

The primary cause of soil pollution is a lack of awareness in general people. Thus, due to many different human activities such as overuse of pesticides the soil will lose its fertility. Moreover, the presence of excess chemicals will increase the alkalinity or acidity of soil thus degrading the soil quality.

What are the effects of soil contamination? ›

Soil pollution causes a chain reaction. It alters soils' biodiversity, reduces soil organic matter and soils' capacity to act as a filter. It also contaminates the water stored in the soil and groundwater, and causes an imbalance of soil nutrients.

What are the causes of soil contamination? ›

Among the most common causes of soil contamination caused by human activity, the FAO highlights industry, mining, military activities, waste — which includes technological waste — and wastewater management, farming, stock breeding the building of urban and transport infrastructures.

What is soil contamination short answer? ›

By definition, any substance in the soil that exceeds naturally-occurring levels and poses human health risks is a soil contaminant. As a quick example, arsenic naturally occurs in some soils. But if a person sprays certain pesticides on their yard, that could cause soil contamination.

What are the effects of contamination? ›

Environmental contaminants can make people sick. Different contaminants can cause a variety of health problems. Common health problems from environmental contaminants include breathing problems (such as asthma), heart disease, and some types of cancer.

How can we prevent soil pollution essay? ›

Soil pollution is a global issue and is a problem that affects everyone. The most important things to do are to stop using pesticides and herbicides, take care of your plants, use organic fertilisers and compost, avoid spreading trash or hazardous materials in the park, and limit chemical fertilisers.

What are the 10 causes of soil pollution? ›

Causes of Soil Contamination
  • Industrial waste. ...
  • Deforestation. ...
  • Excessive use of fertilisers and pesticides. ...
  • Garbage pollution. ...
  • Climate change. ...
  • Loss of soil fertility. ...
  • Impact on human health. ...
  • Reforestation.
Apr 3, 2017

What are the 3 main sources of soil pollution? ›

The main sources of soil pollution in agricultural areas can be grouped as: i) pesticides; ii) mineral fertilizers; iii) organic fertilizers (manure and sewage sludge); iv) wastewater for irrigation; v) plastic materials such as films for mulching and greenhouses, drip irrigation tubes and empty packaging; vi) and ...

What are the main effects of soil? ›

The effects of soil erosion go beyond the loss of fertile land. It has led to increased pollution and sedimentation in streams and rivers, clogging these waterways and causing declines in fish and other species. And degraded lands are also often less able to hold onto water, which can worsen flooding.

What are the 6 effects of soil pollution? ›

Living, working, or playing in contaminated soil can lead to respiratory diseases, skin diseases, and other health problems. Diseases caused by soil pollution include Irritation of the skin and the eyes, Headaches, nausea, vomiting, Coughing, pain in the chest, and wheezing.

What is the most common form of soil contamination? ›

The most commonly occurring inorganic soil contaminants are trace elements such as arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), mercury (Hg), lead (Pb), manganese (Mn), nickel (Ni), zinc (Zn), and radionuclides.

How can we prevent soil contamination? ›

Maintaining good grass coverage, removing debris, turning the soil over, sodding, covering with plastic or cement, or excavating and disposing of contaminated soil will reduce exposure.

What are the 3 types of contamination and causes? ›

While there are many food safety hazards that can cause food contamination, most fall into one of three categories: biological, physical or chemical contamination. In many cases, a single hazard can introduce more than one type of contamination to food.

What are the 4 main contamination? ›

Food manufacturers must do everything possible to avoid contamination and produce safe products, knowing the dramatic consequences if they don't. There are four types of food contamination: physical, biological, chemical and allergenic.

Which of the following are examples of soil contaminants? ›

Examples of Soil Contaminants
  • Lead (Pb) Potential sources: lead paint, mining, foundry activities, vehicle exhaust, construction activities, agriculture activities. ...
  • Mercury (Hg) ...
  • Arsenic (As) ...
  • Copper (Cu) ...
  • Zinc (Zn) ...
  • Nickel (Ni) ...
  • PAHs (polyaromatic hydrocarbons) ...
  • Herbicides/Insecticides.

What are the causes and effects of soil pollution on agriculture? ›

Effects of Soil Contamination

Deforestation causes a change in the rain cycle and this is a contributing factor to global warming and loss of ecosystems. With the rapid growth of human population, we need all the food we can get. Chemicals used on soils reduce soil fertility so food production drops.

What are the main causes of problems in the soil? ›

  • Poor soil health.
  • Degraded soil organism habitat.
  • Soil disturbance (physical, chemical and/or biological)
  • Fallow periods without living roots.
  • Low biodiversity in the production system.
  • Low or no surface plant or plant residue cover.
  • Low crop biomass (surface)
  • Burning, harvesting, or otherwise removing crop residue.


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