Causes Of Soil Pollution

Following are some of the causes of soil pollution:

Cause Detail
Accidental spills & Industrial accidents Industrial accidents (such as the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster) can contaminate the soil with toxins or other substances (such as radiation). These can severely impact the ecosystem and human health. Even agrochemicals stored in bulk may pose a significant risk in the event of an accidental spill. In extreme cases, it can cause a catastrophic explosion (2020 Beirut Industrial Disaster)
Acid rain Acid rain has high levels of hydrogen ions, making it acidic. When this rain seeps into the soil, it can adversely change the soil chemistry. This means the acid rain may negatively affect plants and important microbes that live in the soil; thereby affecting the food chain.
Chemical agents of war Chemicals that are synthesized to inflict harm or cause death have the potential to leak into soil and remain potent.
Coal ash These are fine particulates that are driven out of coal-fired boilers alongside flue gases. These particles contain traces of toxic elements such as arsenic, cadmium and mercury.
Corrosion of underground storage tanks Storage tanks that contain chemicals which are toxic, or may change soil chemistry can be a potential cause of soil pollution if the tanks start to corrode.
Discharge of sewage Wastewater, if released back into the environment untreated, can cause contaminants to leech into the soil. If these contaminants infiltrate water sources, water-borne diseases can arise.
Electronic waste Electronic wastes have many components inside them, some of which may be toxic to human life. When these components are disposed of, these toxins may leech into the soil and affect life.
Landfills & illegal dumping Soil can get contaminated with leachate – which is formed when water percolates through garbage, collecting the dissolved materials. Soil may become contaminated if the leachate filters through.
Mining Mining activities can affect the soil by causing soil erosion, the formation of sinkholes, or leaching chemicals of the mining process into the soil.
Microplastics Microplastics are extremely small pieces of plastic that are less than 5 mm in length. As we all know, plastics do not easily decompose – it may take between 10 to 500 years to decompose. Hence, microplastics can cause soil pollution
Nuclear wastes Nuclear wastes are extremely dangerous to humans. Hence, if this type of waste is not properly disposed of, it can render an area uninhabitable.
Oil spills Oil spills typically occur in a marine environment. However, it can also occur on land. Such a situation can affect soil chemistry and also disrupt plant and animal life.
Waste disposal Improper waste disposal methods can cause soil pollution. For instance, chemicals from various waste products could leech into the soil, contaminating it.

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