Causes and Effects of Soil Pollution

Soil pollution is defined as the build-up in soils of persistent toxic compounds, chemicals, salts, radioactive materials, or disease causing agents and other xenobiotic (man-made) chemicals or other alteration in the natural soil environment.  Pollution in soil is mainly associated with__:

  • Indiscriminate use of fertilizers
  • Indiscriminate use of pesticides, insecticides and herbicides
  • Dumping of large quantities of solid waste
  • Deforestation and soil erosion

The most common chemicals involved in soil pollution are petroleum hydrocarbons, solvents, pesticides, lead, and other heavy metals. A soil pollutant is any factor which deteriorates the quality, texture and mineral content of the soil or which disturbs the biological balance of the organisms in the soil. Pollution in soil has adverse effect on plant growth.

Effect of Soil Pollution

  • Pollutants runs off into rivers and kills the fish, plants and other aquatic life
  • Crops and fodder grown on polluted soil may pass the pollutants on to the consumers
  • Polluted soil may no longer grow crops and fodder
  • Soil structure is damaged (clay ionic structure impaired)
  • Corrosion of foundations and pipelines
  • Impairs soil stability
  • May release vapours and hydrocarbon into buildings and cellars
  • May create toxic dusts
  • May poison children playing in the area

Land Rehabilitation

Land rehabilitation is the process of returning the land to some degree of its former state, after some process (industry, natural disasters, etc.) has resulted in its damage.

Land rehabilitation has been a major priority since Independence, and several policies and government agencies address desertification and degradation.

These include various programmes such as Desert Development Programme; Integrated Wasteland Development; National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas; Soil Conservation in the Catchment of River Valley Projects; National Afforestation Programme; Arid Zone Research; Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme; National Rural Drinking Water Programme etc.