“Like the soil, mind is fertilized while it lies fallow, until a new burst of bloom ensues.“
Land Pollution: Causes, Effects & Solutions
Land pollution can be defined as the contamination or destruction of land through indirect or direct human actions. It is a serious threat to animals, plants, sea life and also to us humans as well as to the whole environment. Land pollution has become a serious problem since the industrial revolution has happened.
Consumption levels have risen dramatically, which leads to more by-products which have to be disposed of and thus to an increase in land pollution. In the following, the causes, effects and also solutions to the land solution problem are examined.
Causes for Land Pollution
- Use of fertilizers
- Use of pesticides
- Nuclear waste
Since our growing population strives for higher consumption levels and demands more meat and vegetables, in order to meet this demand, farmers have to increase their yields.
However, by doing so, farmers have to get rid of by-products and also have to overuse their ground. Thus, the soil can be harmed in an adverse manner.
Use of fertilizers
The excessive use of fertilizers can be a big problem since they are washed through the soil and thus lead to contamination of our groundwater. It is also washed in our rivers and lakes and increases nutrition concentration in those water bodies.
As a result, there is an increased load of algae which in turn leads to a low oxygen environment. Fishes and plants may die because of that since they are usually quite sensitive to their oxygen demand.
Use of pesticides
A similar problem results through the use of excessive levels of pesticides. These chemicals harm the environmental system as a whole. They are also washed in our groundwater and pollute our lakes and rivers.
Moreover, part of the crop yield is eaten by animals. By eating crops treated by pesticides, these animals are contaminated and may even die.
Deforestation is another serious cause of land pollution. Forest are cut down because people want more settlement space and also for farming purposes.
For example, large areas of the Amazonian rainforest are burned down intentionally by farmers in order to get more land for farming.
However, deforestation can lead to an increase in soil erosion and also to an increase in floods since trees hold back large amounts of rainwater.
Through mining activities, people extract large amounts of coal, iron, gold and other precious materials out of the ground. This has an adverse effect on the soil as well as on wildlife.
For the extraction of natural resources, toxic chemicals are often used. If these chemicals are not removed in an environmental-friendly way, they can lead to contamination of plants and animals.
Due to the industrialization and our increased living standards, we need more and more material goods for our daily lives. However, this leads to an increased amount of waste which has to be disposed of.
Especially in developing countries, this waste is often not disposed of properly and sometimes even disposed of in rivers or lakes or on the bare ground. Thus, our increased demand for consumption contributes to the problem of land pollution.
If landfills are not set up properly, chemicals and other harmful substances can be washed through the soil in our groundwater and contaminate it.
It also may have adverse effects on the soil itself since through the contamination with chemicals, it may not be used for other purposes in the future.
Sewage has to be treated in a professional way in order to avoid contamination of the soil and thus also of our groundwater.
Especially in developing countries, technologies are not good enough to treat the sewage appropriately. Thus, this leads to land as well as to water pollution.
Chemicals from industrial processes can cause a huge adverse impact on the environment and can contaminate our lands.
In many countries, the chemicals which had been used in production processes and are just useless by-products after that will just be dumped somewhere in order to get rid of them.
This contaminates the land and also has harmful effects on animals, plants and on our groundwater.
Nuclear waste will become a big problem in the future. With the use of nuclear energy, large amounts of electricity can be generated. However, the radioactive by-products are often just stored somewhere beneath the ground.
This leads to severe consequences since the land near nuclear waste will be contaminated for many thousands or even millions of years.
Construction activities may lead to land pollution if the by-products are not disposed of correctly. Remaining wood, metal or plastic may just be disposed of in nearby forests where they contaminate the ground and also harm local animals and vegetation.
A common problem, no matter if in cities or in rural areas, is littering. People just throw their garbage on the ground and seemingly do not care about the adverse effects on the environment.
An example of that is that people just throw their cigarettes on the ground all the time. This leads to land contamination since cigarettes contain many elements that are harmful to the environment.
Effects of Land Pollution
- Climate effects
- Soil pollution
- Health effects
- Effects on tourism
- Air pollution
- Effects on our groundwater
- Effects on animals
- Effects on plants
Land pollution can indirectly cause global warming. For example, deforestation in the rain forest leads to an increase in global warming since trees absorb CO2.
When they are cut down, large amounts of CO2 are released in the atmosphere and thus the global warming process is enhanced.
Another adverse effect of land pollution is the contamination of soil. Damaging the upper layer of soil through the use of fertilizer and pesticides in agriculture, the contaminated land can lose its fertility and may no longer be used for agricultural purposes in the long run.
In addition, part of the crops contaminated by pesticides is consumed by animals which humans will eventually consume.
Therefore, humans are indirectly affected by the adverse effects of the use of pesticides. Moreover, chemicals will make their way in the food chain through improperly operated landfills.
When areas of land are polluted, they usually become quite dry. Thus, this dry condition increases the probability of wildfires dramatically. Wildfires can harm the whole environment and can kill plants, animals and even humans.
Effects on tourism
Due to land pollution, many countries which have big problems with land pollution will lose their attractiveness to tourists. Tourists usually look out for nice places for spending their vacation. They rather spend their days in a nice clean area than near landfills or in areas with high plastic pollution.
Through the loss of tourists, apart from the land pollution problem, affected areas are also likely to suffer from adverse economic impacts since they won’t be able to provide value for tourists.
Land pollution also causes air pollution. Since a high portion of garbage worldwide is burned and the by-products and harmful gases are released into the air, this harms the air quality and can also cause serious health conditions for people living near waste incineration plants.
Effects on our groundwater
Through the disposal of large amounts of harmful substances from industrial processes in illegal landfills or storages, toxic chemicals will enter our groundwater system which in turn can affect the health of animals, plants and also of humans.
Effects on animals
Animals are affected by land pollution in several ways. They are harmed by the excessive use of fertilizer and pesticides since they eat the crops of plants and therefore get contaminated by harmful chemicals.
Moreover, animals lose their natural habitat through deforestation. They either have to move and search for a new living space or they will die since their natural environment has been destroyed.
Through the dumping of industrial waste in nearby rivers and lakes, animals are contaminated with toxic substances since they drink the water.
Animals are also adversely affected by wildfires that result indirectly from land pollution which causes them to lose their natural habitat or even their death.
Effects on plants
Also, many plants are adversely affected by land pollution. Since contamination leads to a change in the soils‘ properties and plants are usually quite sensitive to these parameters, this may lead to the extinction of certain plants.
For example, excessive use of fertilizer can cause more acid soil. Since the local plants are not used to this acidity, they may not be able to reproduce properly and eventually die off.
Solutions to the Land Pollution Problem
- Reduce the use of fertilizers
- Reduce the use of pesticides
- Reuse and recycle
- Reduction in consumption
- Switch to organic food
- Organic gardening
- Avoid plastic
- Avoid littering
- Proper waste disposal
- Convince people
Reduce the use of fertilizers
Through the reduction of fertilizer use, the land pollution issue can be mitigated since less harmful chemicals are washed in our groundwater.
Moreover, through a reduction in the use of fertilizer, the development of algae is also mitigated which leads to better living conditions for fishes and other water animals since the oxygen concentration stays on a higher level.
Reduce the use of pesticides
Similar to a reduction in the use of fertilizer, using a smaller amount of pesticides will also reduce the land pollution problem since our groundwater as well as our lakes and rivers are discharged.
Moreover, animals that eat crops contaminated with pesticides may suffer illness or even death. Through the reduction in pesticides, the harm to these animals will be reduced.
Reuse and recycle
In our daily lives, we have many items which we just throw away even when they are still working quite well but we always want to have the newest version.
In this case, rather than just to deposit it in the garbage, trying to give it to other people who then reuse it may be the better option.
If no one you know wants this item, you still can throw it away. However, make sure that you dispose of it in a way that it can be effectively recycled!
This way, our resources can be used more effectively and less waste has to be deposited in landfills which in turn contributes to land pollution.
Reduction in consumption
Another related measure against the issue of land pollution is a change in our consumption behavior. Since the industrial revolution, our consumption levels have risen dramatically.
However, this increase in consumption leads to various kinds of environmental issues, including land pollution.
In order to fight land pollution, we have to reduce our consumption levels. We should stop buying stuff that is trendy. Instead, we should use our belongings as long as they are functional.
Switch to organic food
Replacing conventional with organic food is another measure in order to mitigate land pollution. By doing so, we avoid the use of pesticides and thus the reduction of pollution in our rivers, lakes and also in our groundwater.
You can also plant crops in your garden. This would further release our environment since part of the land that is currently used for the production of your vegetables can now be used for other purposes.
The amount of plastic packaging or other forms of plastic we use in our daily lives is ridiculously high. It doesn’t matter what we buy. From vegetables to meat or many other products, most of them are covered with plastic. This significantly contributes to the land pollution problem since we have to get rid of all this plastic material somehow.
Littering heavily contributes to the land pollution problem. People often just throw their garbage on the ground, not at all caring about the adverse consequences to our environment. A good example is the disposal of cigarettes.
We see it every day that people, after using their cigarettes, they just throw them on the ground, no matter where they are standing. Since there are many harmful elements in cigarettes, this has an adverse impact on the soil. Moreover, through rain, these chemicals are also washed in our groundwater.
Proper waste disposal
The disposal of waste in a proper way is an important measure against land pollution both for private people as well as for industries.
In our daily lives, we have to make sure that our garbage is separated so that it can be disposed of in the most effective way.
Industries have to make sure that they get rid of their waste in a way that there is no adverse effect on the environment.
Education is key in order to mitigate the problem of land pollution. We have to show people the adverse effects of land pollution and how we can mitigate them. This education should start at an early age in school.
Children will likely also convince their parents regarding the problem of land pollution and maybe also parents may change their behavior. Therefore, education can make a big difference in order to reduce the land pollution issue and its implied adverse effects.
You are already taking measures against the land pollution problem? Good! However, you can do much more than that. Convincing other people on the importance of mitigating land pollution is crucial in order to scale your impact. By convincing others, everyone of us can make a big contribution in order to save our environment.
Land pollution has become a big problem for our environment, especially after the industrialization period. Land pollution has an adverse effect on animals, plants and also on humans.
Everyone of us can contribute to the mitigation of the land pollution problem in our daily lives. It is our responsibility to reduce land pollution and thus to sustain a livable future for the next generation.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.
As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.
After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.
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