The Effects of Soil Contamination

This blog often explores the ways that human activity has had a devastating effect on the fragile ecosystems in which we live. One of the most nefarious ways human pollution alters the natural environment is through soil contamination, which poisons all living things from the smallest bacteria to the humans who eat produce from the land. In this article, we examine the numerous ways this particular type of pollution alters our natural ecosystems.


Human and animal health hazard

Bioaccumulation is one of the key ways in which soil contamination poses a threat to living organisms. Heavy metals and pollutants present in the soil are absorbed by the plants that grow in it, and as living organisms cannot break down these molecules, they simply make their way up through the food chain and can cause poisoning in apex predators and humans who have consumed animals and plants that have accumulated these toxins.


In addition to the poisonous effects of bioaccumulation, soil that contains high levels of contaminants is a known carcinogen. Heavy metals such a mercury and lead which are present in the soil can also cause significant organ damage and developmental delays in young children.

Reduced soil fertility

Widespread contamination in soil slowly reduces the fertility of the earth as plants are incredibly sensitive to the chemical makeup of the soil. The plant life is unable to adapt to the rapid chemical changes which occur when the soil absorbs pollutants and slowly dies off, making the land agriculturally unviable.


Toxic dust

Because contaminated soil contains less living organisms to bind it together, erosion is another outcome and this often leads to toxic dust. The contaminated soil is lifted and dispersed by the wind, spreading the problem over a much wider area.


Altered soil structure

Erosion is not the only structural outcome of soil contamination, as the mass death of soil organisms such as earth worms also changes the structure of the soil, further reducing it’s fertility and ability to support life.


It is possible to reduce the effects of soil contamination and begin remediation processes through a comprehensive environmental management plan. Alpha Environmental offers sophisticated soil sampling services and can work with homeowners, businesses, and local councils to put in place effective management solutions. To learn more about our capabilities, please don’t hesitate to get in to