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Soil Pollution: Causes and Effects

Human activity has a negative impact on all aspects of nature, including the soil. The problem of soil contamination is relevant for all continents of the Earth, even for the least developed regions. The amount of land affected by degradation currently reaches one-third of the total surface. While pollution can occur from natural causes such as volcanic eruptions or tsunamis, anthropogenic impacts are far more destructive.

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There are two types of soil contamination: specific (occurring in small areas) and widespread (affecting large regions). The causes of small pollution are easy to determine since they are local. This type is usually found in old factories, in cities, near roads, in landfills, or wastewater treatment areas. The consequences of such pollution are not as serious and large-scale as the second type. The cause of the widespread pollution is difficult to determine, and it has massive consequences. The main danger is that they affect not only the soil but also the air and water. The main reason for them is an industrial activity, mining, animal husbandry, and transport infrastructure.

As a result of anthropogenic activity, chemical changes occur in the soil, which takes years to recover. The consequences include increased salt content, erosion, loss of organic carbon, and increased acidity. Thus, contaminated soil cannot support the habitual biodiversity of both plants and animals. The negative effect for microorganisms is especially dangerous since when their balance is disturbed, the ecosystem is destroyed. Moreover, soil contamination also leads to the pollution of water resources as they are directly related.

While pollution is most dangerous for animals and plants, humans also experience negative consequences. For example, accumulated pollutants enter the groundwater from which they are later transferred to plants. They are later eaten by both humans and domestic animals, which leads to various diseases and increased mortality. The consequences can be mild in the form of intoxication and more severe in the form of chronic diseases, including cancer.

With the development and spread of human industrial activity, soil pollution is becoming more significant. Although this type of contamination is invisible to the naked eye, it has enormous consequences for the entire planet. Soil destruction leads to disruption of the Earth’s biodiversity and subsequent pollution of water and air. As a result, human activity is a deadly threat, the consequences of which will be hard to eliminate.

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