What is soil pollution?

Soil pollution is something that is becoming an increasing issue around the world. It is defined as the presence of toxic chemicals in the soil at a level that poses risk to humans and/or the ecosystem as a whole.

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Soil contamination is becoming worryingly prevalent; for example, Australia estimates that it has 80,000 sites that suffer from soil contamination.

What causes soil pollution?

There are two main causes of soil pollution: anthropogenic (man-made) causes and natural causes.

Man-made pollutants

These pollutants come as a result of various man-made processes, such as industrial manufacturing, and some accidents. Sometimes these man-made pollutants mix with natural pollutants, resulting in an increased level of toxicity in the soil.

Examples of anthropogenic pollutant causes include:

– Foundry activities.
– Mining activities.
– Construction activities.
– Transportation activities.
– Agricultural activities.
– Accidental spills and leaks.
– Chemical waste dumping.

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Natural pollutants

Natural processes that can lead to soil pollution include:

– Formation/accumulation of perchlorate in soils.
– Leaks from sewer lines.

Types of soil pollutants include:

– Pesticides
– Fertilisers
– Herbicides
– Slurry
– Radioactive substances
– Dried sludge
– Textiles
– Glass
– Cement
– Petrol/oil

Common pollutants

The most common soil pollutants include lead, mercury, arsenic, copper, nickel, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons.

The effects

Soil pollution affects animals, plants, and humans. In terms of humans, it tends to be the young and elderly who are most susceptible. Exposure to contaminated soil can result in serious conditions such as kidney failure, liver damage, neuromuscular blockage, and even cancer.

What is land remediation?

Land remediation is essentially the restoration of ‘damaged’ land back to its former state or condition. The intention is to eliminate any significant threat that the land poses to humans or the environment.

There are a number of companies that specialise in land remediation services that will be able to advise on soil pollution issues. Those offering land remediation services will be able to use their skills and knowledge to help repair areas of land that may pose an environmental or health threat if left as they are. Land remediation services play a vital part in dealing with the issues of contaminated/hazardous land.

Tackling soil pollution is a key part of reducing the damage the human species is inflicting on the planet.

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