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What are the soil pollutants

When we speak of soil contamination we refer to the action that certain chemical substances have on the earth, contaminating it and making it infertile and even toxic. The final consequence of soil contamination is that both the supervenience of the ecosystem and the health of the beings that inhabit it are in danger.

But what is causing this pollution? What materials contribute to the destruction of ecosystems? ¿ What are the pollutants of the ground ? In the following AgroCorrn article we will explain it to you in depth.

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  1. Causes of soil contamination
  2. What are the soil pollutants
  3. Examples of soil contamination
  4. Effects of soil contamination

Causes of soil contamination

Before talking about what are the soil pollutants, it is worth stopping to talk first about what are the activities that lead to this pollution and what this pollution is like. Usually this is due to nefarious planning, as well as bad practices by human beings. The processes of soil contamination may be summarized as follows:


It is when the forms of life and particles that are in the ground are dragged , either by the force of the water or the force of the air. Although it can also occur naturally, the reality is that major erosions occur due to human action, whether due to poor irrigation technique, logging, burning or extraction of materials. In the following article we fully explain what soil erosion is: causes and consequences .


Although all those that we explain are types of contamination, in a specific way we can also speak of contamination when we refer to the dumping of waste and chemical substances on the ground. These can be domestic or industrial, in the same way, they can be liquid or solid. Be that as it may, it changes the chemical composition in the soil and has very pernicious effects.


When we speak of compaction we refer to the effect that the passage of people, animals, vehicles or the weight of buildings on the ground has. This makes the porosity and small holes in the soil disappear , causing the microflora and microfauna that live there to be lost.

Urban sprawl

How could it be otherwise, urban growth and the increase in built land destroys the land. One of the ways to alleviate this damage would be by promoting high-rise construction.

What are the soil pollutants

At the moment in which we deposit on the ground, either accidentally or voluntarily, waste such as plastic, glass, fecal or organic matter, radioactive substances, chemicals or pesticides, we are directly affecting the characteristics of the soil, causing harmful effects both in the soil itself and in the living beings that inhabit it. Here we explain what the soil pollutants are :


In recent decades the world population has increased dramatically. This population growth has forced a change in the way we treat our resources, for example by using the land more intensively. For this, different chemical products have been used to control pests and increase agricultural production that, depending on their composition, can cause great damage to the soil and the environment.

Among the different pesticides we could distinguish between:

  • Insecticides : as their name suggests, they are used to kill insect pests, but not all act the same. Some act on adult insects, others on larvae, eggs, or all at once. One of the clearest examples is DDT, which acts very quickly and is widely used. However, this insecticide does not decompose and can remain in the soil for more than 10 years. On the other hand, they can enter the food chain and end up in the human body.
  • Herbicides : these chemical compounds are capable of killing vegetation, preventing the growth of young plants and killing old ones.
  • Fungicides : this type of pesticide is used to kill fungi and, most of the time, they are composed of sulfur and copper.

Mining activity

Through tailings waters, mining activity is another that causes soil contamination. Thus, elements such as cadmium, mercury, copper, lead or arsenic accumulate . Some of the effects that these elements have on our body are kidney and nerve disorders, altering the character of an adult, and in the case of children causing an intellectual deficit.

Garbage accumulation

Although cities are the places where the soil tends to be most polluted, the reality is that any place where waste is thrown is prone to being contaminated.

When garbage is piled up, whether in legal or illegal landfills , and remains there for a long time, organic products ferment, emitting toxic gases and seeping into the ground. Thus, the soil and surface or underground waters that may be there are contaminated by bacteria, fungi and pathogens.

Examples of soil contamination

The contamination of soil can occur at many levels, then you left a list of examples :

  • Inefficient or faulty garbage collection and disposal systems.
  • Incorrect industrial waste storage systems.
  • Illegal dumping of waste.
  • Traffic accidents during the transport of goods.
  • Waste leaks in tanks.
  • Illegal wastewater discharges.
  • Use of harmful pesticides.
  • Old or dilapidated sewer systems.
  • Waste buried for years.
  • Toxic effects of mining activity.
  • Throw diapers and other waste in the trash.
  • The atomic tests.

Effects of soil contamination

The effects of soil contamination not only cause that soil to stop being fertile, but it can cause numerous health problems and ecological disasters. Here are some of the effects of soil contamination :

  • It can pollute surface waters, such as rivers and lakes.
  • It can contaminate groundwater in wells and aquifers.
  • It can pollute river sediments.
  • The volatile compounds evaporate and pass into the air.
  • Contaminated water can pass into the supply for irrigation and consumption.
  • Contaminated soil can affect what is grown on it.
  • Digging in can be dangerous.
  • Animals and crops can become contaminated and enter the food chain.

If you want to read more articles similar to What are soil pollutants , we recommend that you enter our Pollution category .

Maria Anderson

Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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