What is Soil Pollution?
Levels of soil pollution include the accumulation of chemicals, radioactive materials, toxic compounds and pathogens in the soil that can adversely affect plant growth and harm human and animal health.
Soil pollution is caused by natural activities or human processes that destroy its properties, such as soil texture, composition, and living organisms.
Also Read: Air Pollution: Causes, Effects, And Prevention 2023
Naturally, the soil contains pollutants such as minerals, salts, inorganic ions and organic compounds that are mainly composed of soil microbial activity. These natural compounds are rarely accumulated to produce pollution.
However, in most cases, the soil is contaminated with human activities and usually has long and short term effects. Basically, it is a mineral defect and the quality and texture of the soil.
The most important contributors to pollution are waste from homes, industries, synthetic chemicals, petroleum products, and mining sites. Some soil pollutants are capable of biological distribution and dissipate slowly after a certain time period.
Others are not biodegradable, which means they can stay in the soil for a longer period. You can classify soil pollutants as chemical, physical, and biological. Sources and solutions for soil pollution are discussed here.
7. Main Sources of Soil Pollution
1. Sewage sludge
Sewage treatment plants also help pollute the soil because they remove the remaining sludge from domestic and commercial waste. Wastewater is usually treated before disposal in land or water tanks.
When disposed of in the soil, sludge can release a large number of nutrients depending on the source, which exceeds the natural nutritional requirements of the soil, posing a threat to human health and/or the ecosystem as a whole. ۔ Sewage sludge can also contain high levels of minerals, which increases soil pollution.
2. Industrial sources
The most common causes of soil pollution include industrial waste or by-products. They usually take the form of solids, gases, and liquids. Nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon dioxide are some gases produced by industrial activities that indirectly cause soil pollution.
Combine with rainwater, causing acid rain that changes the pH of the soil and in turn affects general agricultural production. Industries also drain their solid and liquid banks to the ground.
3. Agricultural sources
Soil pollution occurs due to agricultural practices, such as the use of inorganic products in agricultural and animal production. These materials include synthetic chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers, as shown below:
1. Excessive Use of Agri-Chemicals
The introduction of modern pesticides, herbal medicines and pesticides have increased the use of agricultural chemicals. These chemicals are used to control insects, pests, herbs, cookies, and diseases that attack crops.
Most of these chemicals are not biodegradable, while these other products are toxic to the soil. These products penetrate the soil and act on the ground, thereby changing their composition and pH.
2. Improper use of Fertilizers
Compost is mainly used to eliminate nutrient deficiency in the soil. Soils, which are deficient in potassium, calcium, nitrogen, and sulfur, among other important nutrients, must be treated with the appropriate fertilizer and the right amount.
However, some farmers use it indiscriminately, causing soil pollution. In addition, the materials used to make fertilizers contain impurities that increase soil toxicity.
For example, rock phosphate minerals used in the manufacture of mixed fertilizers contain asbestos, cadmium and lead products that are transported to fertilizers during production. These minerals are not biodegradable and accumulate to toxic levels over time.
4. Urban Waste
Most developing countries face difficulties in controlling municipal waste. However, garbage is disposed of and is composed of waste such as plastics, industrial waste, electronic waste, and general household waste.
City managers don’t realize that most of the non-degradable dirt can be recycled.
5. Nuclear sources
All living things face background radiation. If the levels of these rays exceed a certain threshold, they cause catastrophic effects. Radioactive pollution is produced from two sources, natural and human processes.
In nature, there are radioactive minerals that contribute to soil pollution, such as radon 222 and radium 226 in rocks. Therefore, the misuse of waste from nuclear power plants can lead to pollution and soil contamination.
Although it is not a direct contributor to soil pollution, deforestation removes the shield that protects the soil from erosion. Exposed soil easily corrodes and faces artificial chemical pollution from wind, water, and rain.
7. Sources of Extraction and Fusion
Mining activities cause great soil pollution. These actions cause landscape changes and expose past unstable soils to climate.
The surrounding mining areas and corrosion of traces of metallic minerals and fine materials lead to large amounts of sediment in water sources and drainage channels. They end up in the soil through irrigation and rainwater drainage.
In addition, there are other dangerous substances that escape from mining activities, including hazardous soil particles that accumulate in the surrounding soil.
In developing countries, the level of pollution is even higher because activities such as gold mining are carried out using traditional methods, which release mercury and other heavy metals into the environment.
Some polluted rivers are also used for irrigation, which causes polluted soil.
8. Amazing Solutions to Soil Pollution
To reduce soil pollution, it is important to adopt reduction, reuse, and recycling strategies. Some solutions to reduce soil pollution are:
Covering more trees to reduce soil pollution by reducing the effects of erosion and flooding. Forests provide this by providing protective ground cover for the soil.
2. Microbial Therapy
This method can treat a variety of organic pollutants, including phenols, oils and products, and polychlorinated hydrocarbons.
Microbes are deposited, developed and used to treat the environment. Before treatment, standard agricultural techniques are used to dig and treat the soil.
3. Waste Recycling
Products such as glass, paper, and fabric wrapping can be used indoors to reduce soil pollution. The need to replace recycled products will be limited, thus reducing the amount of relatively low household waste, such as plastic and the electronic waste being sent to the landfill.
Recycling is another way to reduce waste. Some plastics and glasses can be recycled to reduce waste and enhance environmental protection.
4. Extraction and Separation Techniques
In this method, the solvent recovery technique is used. The extraction factor mixes with the polluted soil. The extract is primarily an organic solvent. This method can also be applied to removing heavy metals from clay, such as arsenic, copper, lead, cadmium, and others.
It can also be used to remove halogenated hydrocarbons and hydrocarbons. Impurities in the soil are mainly found in a thin and dense section of the soil such as humus. The basis for removal can be to separate the soil particles into a component using the principle of gravity of different particles.
5. Reducing the use of Artificial Fertilizers and Pesticides
Using organic farming practices can reduce soil pollution around the world. Biological fertilizers and fertilizers reduce the need for chemical fertilizers. Organic methods can also help control crop pests and diseases, which can reduce soil pollution.
6. Physical (thermal) Methods
Pollution can be eliminated by evaporation. By using the correct temperature, indirectly or directly through the heating system, pollution fumes can escape from the evaporation process.
Extraction from toilets is an example of a method of the steam jet being injected into contaminated soil to create evaporation of unauthorized pollution.
However, this method is not sustainable because pollutant emissions from soil are sent to the atmosphere, causing air pollution. Whatever the alternative way to deal with the effects of soil pollution, the focus should be on recycling, reuse, and reduction.
7. Chemical Methods
In this method, the chemical is contacted through a chemical process to restore the natural chemical balance of the soil. This is done regularly to ensure the detoxification process is completed.
8. Solid Waste Treatment
Solid waste must be properly treated and disposed of. They must be treated before release from physical, chemical, and biological sources, even to dangerously low levels of the environment.