The contamination of soil with solid waste, acid rain, excess of fertilizers, Insecticides and herbicides is called soil pollution (or land pollution). Soil pollution results from the build up of contaminants, toxic compounds, radioactive materials, salts,chemicals and cancer-causing agents. The most common soilpollutants are hydrocarbons, heavy metals (cadmium, lead,chromium, copper, zinc, mercury and arsenic),herbicides,pesticides,dioxins,tars,oils.
Until the 1970s, there was little talk of soil pollution and itsdevastating effects. In the 1980s, the U. S.
Superfund was createdto set guidelines for the handling of hazardous material and soilcontamination cleanup. Today there are more than 200,000 sitesawaiting EPA soil cleanup, which is very expensive and labor-intensive work. Even a small cleanup project can cost $10,000,while larger areas require millions of dollars to clean it up for future use.Soil pollution is caused by the presence of xenobiotic (man-made) chemicals or other alteration in the natural soilenvironment. This type of contamination typically arises from therupture of underground storage tanks, application of pesticides,percolation of contaminated surface water to subsurface strata, oiland fuel dumping, leaching of wastes from landfills or directdischarge of industrial wastes to the soil. The most commonchemicals involved are petroleum hydrocarbons, solvents,pesticides, lead and other heavy metals.
This occurrence of thisphenomenon is correlated with the degree of industrializationsand intensities of chemical usage. The concern over soilcontamination stems primarily from health risks, from directcontact with the contaminated soil, vapors from the contaminants,and from secondary contamination of water supplies within andunderlying the soil. Mapping of contaminated soil sites and theresulting cleanup are time consuming and expensive tasks,requiring extensive amounts of geology, hydrology, chemistry andcomputer modeling skills.Preventive measures Reuse and Recycle Contribute less waste to help prevent soil pollution.
Purchase glass and other reusable containers instead of throwing away plastic or paper regularly. Recycle paper and plastic through your local waste management company to reduce the amount of waste that is sent to a landfill. The National Science Digital Library, NSDL, reports that reusing and recycling products will help conserve natural resources and save more land from contamination. Herbicide, Pesticide and FertilizerHerbicides are chemicals used to kill weeds and unwanted plants while pesticides are substances that kill unwanted insects and pests. Fertilizers supply nutrients to plants to help them grow but can contain heavy metals which can be harmful to the animals, including humans, that eat the plant say the Food and Fertilizer Technology Center. Reducing the use of or finding natural alternatives to toxic substances can help prevent soil pollution, according to the National Science Digital Library Proper solid waste treatmentWaste should be disposed of properly to avoid soil pollution. Lobby your community to adopt ways to treat waste before disposing it to prevent pollution.
For example, the NSDL suggests that acidic and alkaline waste be neutralized before they are disposed of so they won’t contaminate the soil. Waste that is biodegradable should be broken down in a controlled environment before being disposed of because it is a much faster, resource-saving method.