L'soil pollution it is one of the most serious problems on earth. There is too little talk of soil pollution and we always focus onair and water pollutionyet, as FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semado said, "Soil pollution affects the food we consume, the water we drink, the air we breathe and the health of our ecosystems”.
For some countries, thesoil pollution it has become a state secret, China knows something about it with the recent investigations on the contamination of the subsoil. China has classified 16% of its soils and 19% of agricultural land as polluted!
The theme ofsoil pollutionis very extensive, in this article we will just provide you with asummary, a sort of general overview of the possible causes and consequences of soil and subsoil contamination.
L'soil pollution it is defined as soil contamination from chemicals, toxic materials, pathogens, radioactive materials and other agents that can have adverse effects on animal and plant health. In other words, say that a soil is polluted it is to say that that region of land is not compatible with life. Soil pollution can also compromise groundwater, waterways, rivers and cause real environmental disasters. It can also have a negative impact on human health by contaminating neighboring agricultural crops.
Soil pollution: causes
What is the soil? Soil is a mixture of inorganic and organic material that covers the rocky surface of the earth. The organic component derives from residues from the animal and vegetable kingdom. What are the causes of soil pollution?
Thecausesthey can be many, among the most frequent:
- Infiltration of liquids from an uncontrolled landfill
- Landfill of waste
- Discharge of industrial waste into the ground
- Percolation of contaminated water into the soil
- Leaks from underground storage tanks
- Excessive use of pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers
- Solid waste infiltration
- Extraction of hydrocarbons by hydraulic fracturing, a practice known as fracking
- Human activities (dispersion of plastic waste, electronic waste, batteries and other hazardous waste)
- War remnants
- Nuclear tests and / or accidents
Thecauses of soil pollutionmultiply over time: today we talk about "emerging pollutants" referring to hormones, biological pollutants, pharmaceutical products, endocrine disruptors and substances released byelectronic waste and plastic materialsderived from human activity and disposed of incorrectly.
As for the pollution related to the war activity of past years, this figure should not be underestimated. According to FAO data, there are about 110 million unexploded mines or other pieces of ordinance scattered in 64 countries on all continents, war remnants that can have deadly consequences for farmers and that can release heavy metals through atmospheric agents.
What are the main soil pollutants?
The main soil pollutants they are given by petroleum hydrocarbons, heavy metals, pesticides and solvents.
When it comes to soil pollution it refers to both the surface of the ground and the subsoil. Both types of pollution are very dangerous for agricultural crops while thepollution of the subsoil is particularly dangerous for underground aquifers.
A polluted soil it can no longer be grown for food production because chemicals can be absorbed by vegetation and harm the people or animals that feed on them. Pollutants change the composition of the soil and influence the type of microorganisms that live in it. L'soil pollution disrupts entire ecosystems.
A research conducted in the Campania region has highlighted an extensive area where the soils are contaminated due to offenseslandfill of waste and mismanagement of landfills. The most discussed areas include the land falling within the municipalities of Acerra, Caivano, Castelvolturno, Succivo, Nola, Giugliano and Villaliterno. In these soils, the analyzes showed massive presence of pollutants such as lead, copper, dioxin, zinc, ipa (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons such as naphthalene and fluorene) and antimony.
The problem of polluted agricultural land does not only concern Campania or the south of Italy. Sample analysis noted high-risk areas also in the Center-North. No wonder a simple consideration is made: as FAO points out, land adjacent to roads has high levels of heavy metals, hydrocarbons and other pollutants, which pose a threat when food production or grazing takes place on them. .
In Northeast Italy, the soil pollution situation can see further with-causes. Almost all soils in the Northern Hemisphere contain polluting radionuclides in concentrations higher than tolerable levels following atmospheric fallout from nuclear tests or radiological events such as the Chernobyl accident
This type of pollution should not be underestimated because it has a heavy impact on health. In many regions of the world, the levels of persistent organic pollutants in human milk are significantly higher than those considered safe, with a higher incidence in India and in some European and African countries.
Remediation of polluted soils
Before cultivating a polluted soil it is necessary to proceed with the due process remediation. These can be conducted through the use of microorganisms capable of feeding on the polluting chemical compounds or through electromechanical systems designed to extract contaminants. If the operations of quenching and tempering they can only be a partial remedy, the true one solution to soil pollution it is prevention.
As stated, this is only a summary general of the complex issue of soil pollution.