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Causes Of Soil Pollution

Following are some of the causes of soil pollution:

Accidental spills & Industrial accidentsIndustrial 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 rainAcid 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 warChemicals that are synthesized to inflict harm or cause death have the potential to leak into soil and remain potent.
Coal ashThese 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 tanksStorage 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 sewageWastewater, 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 wasteElectronic 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 dumpingSoil 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.
MiningMining activities can affect the soil by causing soil erosion, the formation of sinkholes, or leaching chemicals of the mining process into the soil.
MicroplasticsMicroplastics 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 wastesNuclear wastes are extremely dangerous to humans. Hence, if this type of waste is not properly disposed of, it can render an area uninhabitable.
Oil spillsOil 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 disposalImproper 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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