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The Impending Need to Address Soil Pollution

Updated: Mar 15

Soil pollution has been occurring for years, and it is widespread. But it's not a problem without a solution.


The result of accumulated pollutants in the ground, soil pollution can either occur naturally (due to atmospheric imbalances, certain environmental conditions, etc.) or as a result of human activity. Pesticides, fertilizers, human or animal wastewater and other wastewater treatment chemicals are all soil pollutants. 


These pollutants can negatively affect humans. According to Environmental Pollution Centers, exposure to soil pollutants — whether through the consumption of contaminated crops or affected animals or through the air — can lead to conditions such as neuromuscular blockages, liver damage and even cancer. 


Soil pollution is an issue of great concern to some Americans, but most do not even know that it exists. This presents the first obstacle to addressing the problem — a significant lack of awareness. According to Environmental Protection, an environmental news site, the most commonly addressed environmental issues include air and water pollution and climate change. 


And there is a reason for this. The problems listed are having severe, immediate effects on human and animal populations all over the world. People can see them; they are tangible issues.


Soil pollution, on the other hand, is out of sight. It is invisible to the average person unless they work on a farm or directly handle waste or waste treatment chemicals. 

This leads me to the second issue that arises when tackling soil pollution — so many factors depend on its major causes. For example, the agricultural and waste management sectors of the nation depend on the chemicals that contribute to soil pollution. That is why they are used so frequently. 


Without pesticides, crop yields would be significantly lower (something many countries cannot afford, given their rapidly growing populations); the same goes for fertilizers. Waste management depends on these chemicals even more than farming. Without the proper treatment of waste, an even larger amount of toxins would be released into the ground. 


While their immediate implementation costs may be high, alternatives to conventional techniques in these fields do exist and should be seriously considered. Switching to integrated pest management techniques on farms or investing in higher quality waste-holding containers and liners are both great examples. 


These kinds of changes can not only contribute to ending soil pollution but can actually save these organizations money in the long run. Farmers would no longer have to pay large sums of money for pesticides, and wastewater treatment facilities would no longer have to pay for container repairs.


Addressing soil pollution is absolutely possible — and necessary. There are certainly understandable reasons to avoid action. But change often comes at a cost, and it tends to be worth the effort.


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.


Sources:

“The 8 Biggest Environmental Issues in the US.” World Atlas, www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-8-biggest-environmental-issues-in-the-us.html


Tsui, Jenna. "Five Biggest Environmental Issues Affecting the U.S." Environmental Protection, 24 Feb. 2020, eponline.com/articles/2020/02/24/five-biggest-environmental-issues-affecting-the-us.aspx.


“What Is Soil Pollution.” Environmental Pollution Centers, www.environmentalpollutioncenters.org/soil/.

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