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Soil pollution, a significant environmental concern, has the potential to disrupt ecosystems, sabotage agricultural productivity, and pose serious health risks to humans and wildlife. To tackle these concerns, understanding the soil pollution sources is crucial in order to implement effective mitigation strategies and preserve the integrity of our planet’s most valuable resource.
There was no correlation between agricultural productivity and soil contamination in the past, but as society and the economy have developed, along with the world’s population, so has a need for more efficient agricultural production. Due to this, it was necessary for crop growth rates to increase steadily and unit production to increase, which led to the misuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides becoming a widespread issue and soil contamination becoming a very significant issue.
Unsustainable farming methods decrease soil organic matter, which jeopardizes soils’ ability to break down organic contaminants. The likelihood of the contaminants being discharged into the environment rises as a result. Intensive agricultural production has depleted the soil in many nations, putting our capacity to continue producing in these regions in the future in jeopardy. Therefore, it has become crucial to use sustainable agricultural production methods to stop the deterioration of the soil and guarantee the current and future security of the world’s food supply.
Abuse of pesticides and chemical fertilizers has caused major soil contamination and a loss in soil fertility. It will also result in the pollution of rivers and groundwater, which is very dangerous to human health. Rivers become eutrophic, extensive regions of aquatic life are lost, and soil fertility declines as a result of soil contamination. As a result, it becomes essential to use more chemical fertilizer, creating a vicious cycle.
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Soil contamination results from the untreated release of industrial wastes into the environment, which includes high concentrations of hazardous contaminants. Industrial wastes contain a variety of toxic and hazardous chemicals; thus, when they are deposited on soil, they weaken the structure of the top soil layer, reducing the soil’s fertility and biological activity. Ecological imbalances brought on by a negative effect also affect agricultural productivity. Aside from that, consuming such crops might drastically impair a person’s health due to the contaminated soil and crops.
The most typical waste products from the mining and smelting sectors are mud and debris, which have high mercury content. This trash is simply dumped and used for family irrigation and other uses. Extremely mercury-contaminated plant products are produced by irrigating with this wastewater. Soil contamination is caused by industrial dye and paint waste, fly ash from thermal power plants, petroleum hydrocarbons, and more.
The vast majority of businesses rely on mining for minerals. They acquire a lot of rubbish along with the goods as a result of this operation. The earth’s surface is covered in this garbage. Whether it’s coal or iron ore, the by-products are filthy and not disposed of correctly. Industrial waste’s prolonged exposure to the soil’s surface is unsuitable for human consumption.
Read More: Industries in Soil Pollution
Oil Spill Pollution is the term used to describe the harmful effects that oil spills have on the environment and living things, including people, as a result of the environmental discharge of different organic compounds that are present in crude oil and oil distillate products, the majority of which contain different individual hydrocarbons.
An oil leak on land might seep underground and eventually make its way to the groundwater. However, the existence of paved surfaces, natural clay layers, or other human or natural obstacles may slow down or even prohibit such vertical migration. Additionally, the oil may travel laterally with groundwater and surface fluids and less porous strata (such as surface pavements).
Mineral oil spills also have an impact on the soil’s phosphorus content. As the pH level rises and the amount of phosphorus falls, the soil becomes too basic. The land becomes unusable for cultivation over time.
Mineral oil and petroleum hydrocarbon contamination of soil affects the surrounding flora and wildlife. It puts both human and animal health in grave danger.
1. Soil Degradation: Soil contamination causes it to lose quality and diminishes its ability to store water.
2. Heavy Surface Runoff: Due to the insoluble nature of oil in water, the soil’s capacity for holding water declines. As a result, groundwater level filtering drops, and surface runoff rises.
3. Fertility loss: Phosphorous is crucial for the development of plants. The soil gradually loses its fertility if the necessary mineral isn’t present in sufficient quantities.
4. Soil Ecosystem: The pores in the soil get blocked as a result of mineral oil penetrating into its deeper layers. It is difficult to aerate. Oxygen supply declines. The soil-dwelling plants, animals, and bacteria are unable to breathe. They die. In other words, the ecosystem of the soil is completely disrupted.
5. Human Health: Soil oil pollution may develop neuromuscular blockades in humans. People who live nearby may also have other symptoms, such as protracted sadness, weariness, nausea, headaches, eye discomfort, and skin rashes.
The toxicity of the pollutants and the degree of soil contamination may be affected by natural processes in addition to those introduced by humans into the environment. Due to the complex soil ecosystem, which includes the existence of other chemicals and other natural factors that may interact with the released contaminants, this is conceivable.
The movement and dispersion of soil fragments as well as the hydraulic migration of parent rock with a high background value under the influence of wind, are examples of natural causes.
Compounds naturally build up in the soil as a result of imbalances between atmospheric deposition and water loss during precipitation, as in the case of perchlorate concentration and accumulation in soils in dry regions.
Natural production in soil occurs when specific environmental factors are present. For example, perchlorate naturally forms in soil when a chlorine source, a metallic item, and the energy from a thunderstorm are present.
Leaks from sewer systems into the ground, such as when chlorine is added and trihalomethanes like chloroform are produced.
Radioactive soil contamination results from volcanic eruptions and parent rock weathering, among other natural processes. The main distinction between pollution from radionuclides and that from trace elements is that whereas radionuclides can harm live cells by radiation released during radioactive decay, trace elements’ negative impacts are connected to chemical processes occurring within living cells.
The self-cleaning ability of a soil surface refers to the natural ways in which the land gets rid of the pollutants discharged into it. For example, Rain washes away excess metals and oils from the soil.
The amount of organic carbon in the soil affects how well soil oxidoreductase enzymes carry out the oxidative degradation of hydrocarbons among the components of the auto-road complex. This activity of soil “self-cleaning” from substances like petrochemicals depends on the amount of organic carbon in the soil.
Both microbiological processes of oxidative destruction of the pollutants and the evaporation of light-end split products, with their filtering into the low layers of soil section, are often responsible for the “self-cleaning” of soils from contaminants.
Pollutant content in soils is reduced by the soil itself, which is probably a result of the soil’s “self-cleaning” process. Numerous studies show that humates dramatically lower toxicity as well as certain hydrocarbons and decrease soil fermentation activity by doing so. As a result, humates enhance microbiological activities, possibly including the “self-cleaning” process of these substrates.