Soil Pollution Causes

There are numerous causes of soil pollution that occur every day or even every minute. For ease of reference, they are generally split into two: man-made (anthropogenic) causes and naturally occurring causes.

Man-Made Pollutants

Anthropogenic (man-made) soil pollution originates in several types of processes, some deliberate (industrial) and some accidental. Human-caused soil pollution can work in conjunction with natural processes to increase the toxic contamination levels in the soil.

Construction sites are the most important triggers of soil pollution in urban areas, due to their almost ubiquitous nature. Almost any chemical substance handled at construction sites may pollute the soil. However, the higher risk comes from those chemicals that can travel more easily through the air as fine particulate matter. The chemicals that travel as particulate matter are more resistant to degradation and bioaccumulate in living organisms, such as PAHs.

Additionally, construction dust may easily spread around through the air and is especially dangerous because of its lower particle size (less than 10 microns). Such construction dust can trigger respiratory illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis, and even cancer. Moreover, the sites that involve the demolition of older buildings can release asbestos, a toxic mineral that can act as a poison in soil. Asbestos particles can be redistributed by the wind.

Natural Pollutants

Apart from the rare cases when a natural accumulation of chemicals leads to soil pollution, natural processes may also have an influence on the human released toxic chemicals into the soil, overall decreasing or increasing the pollutant toxicity and/or the level of contamination of the 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.

Natural processes leading to soil pollution: