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Soil Pollution
Environmental Pollution

Land Pollution Diseases

Land or soil pollution diseases involve those diseases caused by pollutants from the land/dirt/soil. The pollutants may enter the soil/land via:
  • waste disposal (e.g., landfills);
  • air deposition dry (e.g., from mining and smelting activities, foundries) and wet (e.g., acid rain);
  • contact with contaminated surface or ground waters.

The pollution of soil can affect us mainly through inhalation of gases emitted from soils moving upward and/or of fine soil particles transported by wind or which are disturbed during various human activities. While exposure to soil pollutants is in general less problematic than that to air and water pollution, it may have serious effects to children who usually play in the ground, being in closer proximity to potential pollution. Additionally, children may accidentally swallow soil particles while playing in the ground.

Soil pollutants, including both chemicals and pathogens, could be in several forms - which are inter-changeable (until an equilibrium is reached):

  • Solids – adsorbed or mixed within soil particles
  • Liquids – filling the voids (pores) between soil particles
  • Gaseous (soil gas) – within the air between soil particles

Soil pollution may cause a variety of health problems starting with headaches, nausea, fatigue, skin rash and/or eye irritation and potentially resulting in more serious conditions, of which, the most common soil pollution diseases include:

  • Cancers, including leukemia – through soils contaminated with chemicals (e.g., gasoline, or other petroleum products containing benzene)
  • Nervous system damage – caused especially by Pb in soil and affecting especially children
  • Neuromuscular blockage and depression of the central nervous system
  • Kidney and liver damage – caused by chemicals such as Hg

In general, many effects are common with those from water pollution.

Soil pollution may enter our bodies:

  • Directly – though inhalation of soil dust or soil particles, as well as through skin contact
  • Indirectly
    • through consumption of food (e.g., vegetables) grown on contaminated soil
    • by inhaling toxic vapors of volatile chemicals polluting the soil