Soil or land pollution is when the soil becomes contaminated by chemicals or other harmful substances.
It might not seem such a big deal but when land gets polluted it can damage our health. If we eat vegetables that have been grown in contaminated soil then we can end up eating the pollutants. If we breathe in, or touch contaminated soil, then it can cause us breathing difficulties, skin problems or more serious illnesses.
What causes land pollution?
Before we knew about the problems of land pollution, people didn’t worry about tipping away waste chemicals or burying rubbish underground. We didn't know that this could have a bad effect on the environment. There are a number of causes of land pollution.
Rubbish – Land gets polluted when we litter or dump rubbish.
Waste – We produce billions of tonnes of waste each year, a lot of this is not recycled and ends up in landfill sites. When this waste decomposes, chemicals can leak into the surrounding soil and contaminate it.
Farming – Chemicals used to help crops grow also pollute the land when they get washed away into the soil.
Industry – Activities like open-cast mining, leave behind mining waste that's poisonous when it gets into the soil.
How can we prevent land pollution?
- Recycle! Recycle! Recycle! Reduce the amount of waste that is produced and therefore the amount that ends up at landfill sites. Find out more at Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
- Don’t litter or dump rubbish. Put your waste in the bin or recycling bin so it can be disposed of properly. Check out our What Happens To Waste? to see what happens to waste that isn't recycled.
- Don’t use chemical fertilisers or pesticides on your garden. Try and use environmentally friendly products instead.
- Let other people know about the harmful effects of land pollution and let them know what they can do to prevent it.