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Like air and water, soil is an important component of our environment. It plays a pivotal role in the growth of life, maintenance of the ecosystem, and in the water cycle.
Sources of Soil pollution
The major sources of soil contamination include illegal dumping of waste and leakage of wastewater from factories and business facilities. From these sources, the soil gets polluted with the following compounds, which have been identified as primary soil pollutants: compounds of heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, cadmium, uranium and hexachromium; organic chlorine compounds, such as trichloroethylene; and organo phosphorus compounds.
Effects of soil pollution
A characteristic of soil pollution is the deposition of hazardous chemicals on the soil. When toxic substances in the soil dissolve, they contaminate (both surface and ground water (as they seep into ground water)). They also contaminate the air, and when polluted soil is exposed to human skin, human health may be affected.
Pollution of underground water by metal ions is very likely in a soil with high acidity. This is because, as you will see in later chapters, active metals react readily with acids to displace hydrogen. Therefore, by this reaction, the heavy metal atoms become ions, which are responsible for pollution, and are carried along in the underground water.
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