What are the different consequences of soil pollution? There are several potential causes for soil pollution to occur. Industrial wastes, dumping of toxic chemicals, leaked underground fuel tanks, faulty disposal of toxic materials, septic tanks and sewage all are some of the probable causes for soil pollution. Each of these causes has both local and global effects.
The effects of soil pollution can be both immediate and long term. Immediate consequences include changing the structure of the soil, killing or removing much needed plant life, changing the pH levels and even altering climate conditions. Long-term consequences include detrimental effects on the soil, plants and even humans.
One of the most common and significant effects of soil pollution is the interruption of water transportation. The interruption of water transportation results in the lowering of the soil water table. Water tables are the water level in the soil that the plants in turn use as a nutrient source. The effects on the soil and plant life are usually devastating resulting in depleted soil productivity and the replacement of plants by crops for food. These effects are only short-lived because the water table soon rises back to normal.
Another effect of soil pollution is the reduction of crop yields. Healthy soils that are free from pollutants will produce more crops with greater efficiency. In less polluted soils, crop yields are reduced due to a reduction in the richness of the soils and in turn, pesticides and insecticides are used which in turn negatively affect the health of the soil and its plants. This results in lower agricultural revenues for the country.
Another direct effect of soil pollution is the effect on human health. The effected are the animals and birds who live in and around the contaminated area. They become sick and die. Human beings can also become ill and experience diseases as a result of contaminants in the soil. It has also been found that the presence of multiple contaminants in the soil increases the risk of cancer and other life threatening diseases.
The reduction in crop yields has caused prices of food to increase. This has led to price inflation and economic crisis in many countries. To make matters worse, the situation is made worse by the increase in unemployment. If soil pollution is not control, this trend will continue and will lead to food scarcity.
The third effect of soil pollution is acid rain. Acid rain is caused by the soil pollution when there is an increased concentration of toxic chemicals and heavy metals. These chemicals are removed from the air when they fall on the ground and react with the soil. This causes the accumulation of these acidic substances and eventually acid rain.
There is thus a link between soil pollution and adverse effects on human health, fertility and prices of food. What can be done to reduce chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the soil? The major sources of such chemicals are petroleum, animal and human manure. Thus farmers should be more responsible for their use. A solution thus seems to be a must for these farmers.
There have been several debates on how to solve the problems of soil pollution and acid rain. One approach is to reduce the amount of chemicals that are being used. However, this is only a temporary solution. We need to find another way to deal with the problems of acid rain and their adverse effects on human health and fertility. Another approach is to reduce the amount of fertilizer used; however this will not help to reduce the acid rain effects on our environment.
Chemical fertilizers affect the natural balance of microorganisms may cause some undesirable effects. When the imbalance is present, the plants are unable to grow properly. This may lead to deficiencies in the crops resulting in poverty. In addition to this, the adverse effects of such fertilizers on the environment may cause irreversible damage to aquatic ecosystems and animal eco-systems. Hence it is important to find ways to increase the fertility of the soil and to reduce the adverse effects of soil pollution.
Soil particles that contain contaminants can easily become airborne during wind and water currents. These particles can then become lodged in the seed bearing plants or the root systems of the plants. The nutrients that are needed by the plants for growth are then contaminated with these contaminants and they are used up by the plants. As a result of this, soil pollution becomes inevitable when there are high levels of contaminants in the air.
The problem of excessive use of chemicals has become even more serious due to the fact that agricultural chemicals are very expensive. Soil pollution caused by the use of fertilizers and pesticides has become one of the most serious environmental issues of today. Many agriculturalists do not believe in using artificial fertilizers and pesticides to increase the productivity of the soil. However, using these methods results in the death of many valuable natural plant life forms and also causes great damage to the environment.