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Soil Pollution
Environmental Pollution

Soil Pollution

In a general sense, soil pollution definition is the presence of toxic chemicals (pollutants or contaminants) in soil in high enough concentrations to be of risk to human health and/or ecosystem. Additionally, even when the levels of contaminants in soil are not of risk, soil pollution may occur simply due to the fact that the levels of the contaminants in soil exceed the levels that are naturally present in soil (in the case of contaminants which occur naturally in soil).

Soil pollutants include a large variety of contaminants or chemicals (organic and inorganic), which could be both naturally-occurring in soil and man-made. In both cases, the main soil pollution causes are the human activities (i.e., the accumulation of those chemicals in soil at levels of health risk is due to human activities such as accidental leaks and spills, dumping, manufacturing processes, etc.). Accumulation due to natural processes is also possible, but it has only been recorded in few cases (such as the accumulation of higher levels of perchlorate in soil from Atacama Desert in Chile which is purely due to natural processes in arid environments). Natural processes, however, may have an influence of the human released toxic chemicals (pollutants) in the soil, overall decreasing or increasing the pollutant toxicity and/or the level of contaminated soil. This is possible due to the complex soil environment involving the presence of other chemicals and natural conditions which may interact with the released pollutants.

Soil Pollution Construction

Various causes for soil pollution are detailed below. Of these causes, construction sites are important causes of soil pollution in urban area due to their almost ubiquitous nature. In general, any chemical handled at construction sites may pollute the soil. However, the higher risk come from those chemicals that may travel easier through air (as fine particulate matter) and which are resistant to degradation and bioaccumulate in living organisms such as PAHs. Additionally, construction dust may easily spread around by air and is dangerous due to its lower particle size (less than 10 microns). Such construction dust may trigger respiratory vilnesses, asthma, bronchitis and even cancer. The sites that invole demolition of older buildings may release asbestos. This may act as a poison in soil. It may be re-distributed by wind.

Soil Pollution and Its Effects

Soil pollution may affect all of us as well as plants and animals. However, children are usually more susceptible. This is because kids are more sensitive to various pollutants and they may come in close contact with soil by regularly playing in the ground for example. Thus, soil pollution for kids always involves higher risks than for adults. While anyone is susceptible to soil pollution, soil pollution effects may vary based on age, general health status and other factors.

A more detailed explanation of various processes contributing to soil pollution, along with concrete examples of the most common soil pollutants generating soil poisoning issues are given below. Additionally, soil poisoning prevention, a summary of the main health issues associated with contaminated or polluted soils (also referred to as soil poisoning) is also included.

Soil Pollution Causes

Soil Pollution Facts and Soil Poisoning Prevention

Soil Pollution Examples (Pollutant, Sources, Effects)

If you believe you have been or are currently exposed to soil pollutants, please contact environmental pollution centers.

If you are the owner of a parcel that was shown to have soil pollution you may face liability issues and may be asked to characterized and remediate the situation. However with appropriate legal advice these can be avoided. Please contact environmental pollution centers.