Soil contamination


The contamination of the soil is a topical issue with great environmental impact on the health of men, animals and plants .


There is talk of soil contamination when it contains a abnormal concentration of chemical compounds made by man and that are potentially dangerous for the health of living beings and for the functioning of ecosystems .

  • Causes of soil contamination
  • Effects of soil contamination
  • Soil pollution prevention
  • Sources
  • Examples of soil contamination

Causes of soil contamination

  • The industrialization : Increasingly, the population growth requires production of more goods, which causes an increased amount of industrial waste.
  • Deforestation and erosion soil : Forests are home to more than 80% of terrestrial biodiversity and represent a refuge for numerous animal and plant species. In that sense, deforestation is a catastrophe both for man and for other living beings. On the other hand, once a soil has become sterile and dry due to pollutants, it will not be able to become fertile again.
  • Agricultural expansion : Modern intensive farms generally use chemical fertilizers and pesticides in order to eliminate insects, bacteria and fungi on crops. The problem is that these chemicals are often applied in such proportions that they remain in the soil, modifying its acidity or pH.
  • Nuclear waste: power plants can generate a large quantity of undesirable chemical radioactive substances that are susceptible to coming into contact with the ground, negatively altering its properties.
  • Mines: Mining waste generally generates a large amount of debris that can contain a wide variety of toxic substances that then infiltrate the ground by rain or are dispersed into the air by rain. wind . This obviously can have a great impact on the regeneration of the vegetation in the place.
  • Building materials: Construction activities carried out to urbanize cause a lot of waste of wood, metal, plastic materials, among others.
  • Deteriorated sewers: Old and in poor condition sewers tend to cause leaks and leaks that are the cause of contamination of the subsoil and groundwater. Corrosive agents can accelerate the deterioration process of sewers.

Effects of soil contamination

The crops and vegetation in general may be affected by contaminated soils. Some chemical fertilizers and pesticides can be absorbed by the plants and animals that we consume, so these would also affect the health of our body. This can affect the appearance of several types of cancer as well as other diseases.


Soil pollution prevention

  • The application of pesticide residue monitoring and control plans.
  • The consolidation of a device for monitoring the health status of populations in order to deepen the knowledge of the effects on health.
  • The management of contaminated media.


The soil can be contaminated by different types of toxic agents that alter its properties. Among them we can mention:

  • Biological agents: these are substances that come from human and animal excrement.
  • Agricultural activities: during these practices, toxic substances such as pesticides, fertilizers, debris, among others, are used.
  • Radioactive agents: these are toxic substances such as uranium, nitrogen.
  • Urban waste: made up of garbage from domestic and commercial activities.
  • Industrial waste: refers to waste from industrial facilities such as steel, textiles, cement, glass, among others.

Examples of soil contamination

  • Atomic tests: This type of test can make the soil completely infertile due to the presence of highly toxic radioactive materials.
  • The dairy industry: The activities carried out for the production of milk that include from the rearing of the cow to the ready packaged product, can seriously affect the contamination of the soil by nitrates. Such is the case in French Brittany, Ireland and Italian Lombardy.
  • Urban garbage: An ineffective system for the treatment of urban garbage can constitute a pollution factor for soils. It should be remembered that the garbage can be made up of a large amount of polluting residues such as metals, oils, acids, among others, which can alter the properties of dreams. This is particularly the case in the case of uncontrolled open-air landfills without proper control. In addition, they are also an element of air pollution.
  • Black water : Waste water can infiltrate the soil, reach the subsoil, thus constituting a major factor of biological contamination of the same.

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