Land pollution has disastrous effects, particularly on the survival of animals and humans, as well as in the quality of soil and water. Human activities have increasingly ruined and degraded land since the dawn of industrialization, producing diseases in humans and animals and limiting the capacity to support ecosystems and varied life forms.
In the previous blog, we had seen an overview of the effects and causes of land pollution. In this blog, I will show you the effects of land pollution in detail and how it drastically affects the entire ecosystem and threatens the survival of our planet.
Land Pollution Effects
Land pollution is the degradation of the Earth’s land surface due to the accumulation of toxic substances harmful to both man and the ecosystem. The effects of land pollution don’t limit to soil pollution but have serious biological, ergonomic and economic consequences. Let’s have a look at the disastrous effects of land pollution.
Also read : Land Pollution – Causes, Effects and Prevention
Soil Pollution and loss of fertility
Soil pollution is a type of land pollution in which the nutrient composition of the upper layer of the soil, or topsoil, gets destroyed or altered. The prime reasons for soil pollution are overuse of chemical fertilisers, soil erosion due to flowing water, and other pest control tactics. This results in the loss of agricultural area, forest cover, and pasturelands.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, half of the world’s topsoil has been destroyed in the previous 150 years. For 2.5 millimetres of topsoil, the regeneration process takes at least 500 years. Now you can imagine the magnitude of the crisis that we are undergoing.
According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), excessive use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides destroys essential soil microbes. Destruction of these microbes results in diminishing biodiversity and has disastrous repercussions for soil health. Microorganisms are required for several processes that contribute to soil fertility, including:
- Nutrient cycling, through which microbes convert nutrients into forms that crops can utilise.
- Microorganisms degrade hazardous substances that are by-products of agrochemicals, thereby reducing soil contamination. If there aren’t any microbes in the soil, it can drastically reduce its fertility.
Also read: What are Water Pollutants? – Definition, Sources and Types
Poisoning of groundwater
When we inappropriately dispose of hazardous chemicals and other wastes on land or in illegal landfills, the chemicals may eventually seep into the groundwater system. This procedure is known as leaching. It can occur on farms, industrial sites, and landfills, posing a health risk to animals, plants, and humans.
Nutrient pollution, which arises due to farm runoff of chemical fertilisers is a subset of land pollution. The resulting nutrient enrichment of water bodies leads to eutrophication. When humans consume this contaminated water it leads to a variety of health issues. Even in little amounts, increased nitrate levels in water from fertiliser residues can be detrimental to newborns causing Blue Baby Syndrome
The poisoning of groundwater which is a major source of drinking water for humans creates the worst consequence of land pollution, that is drinking water shortage. Let’s move on to it.
Land pollution has the potential to spread in all directions, causing harm to the surrounding ecosystem. It can contaminate water and drastically impair its quality. Surface rainwater runoff carries chemicals and other harmful substances from landfills and solid wastes into rivers and makes the water unfit for human consumption.
Simultaneously, leaching occurs, allowing harmful metals and compounds to penetrate aquifers and water tables. Furthermore, contaminated water evaporates and condenses as precipitation along with the contaminants, perpetuating the pollution and aggravating the drinking water shortage.
Also read: Water Pollution – Effects and Causes
Effect on human health
Many parts of the world, particularly underdeveloped countries and slum areas, have massive amounts of rubbish piled up in the streets. This increases the contact of garbage with humans and the food we consume. These wastes contain hazardous chemicals, insecticides, and metals all of which are harmful to humans.
Plastic garbage contains chemicals like acrylic, polyvinyl chloride, polycarbonate, and phthalates. They have the potential to cause cancer, skin ailments, respiratory problems, and birth defects in pregnant women. Upon burning plastics in landfills, these chemicals escape into the air and pollute the air. In some other cases, they seep into water bodies. Ultimately, they reach the human body and damage the internal organs.
Chemical components contained in pharmaceuticals, pesticides and fertilisers, industrial wastes, such as cadmium, asbestos, mercury, cyanide, arsenic, and chromium, have severe impacts on human health. They are carcinogenic and can also cause lung, kidney, and liver damage.
According to a 2015 scientific study, “cancer villages” in China are connected to locations where farming takes place on land poisoned by the overuse of chemical pesticides and other heavy metals. Arsenic, asbestos, and dioxins are the main cause of cancer in Europe. Poisoning by lead and arsenic induce neurological damage and lower the IQ.
Wildlife creatures have suffered greatly in recent decades as a result of the continuous threats to their natural habitat and surroundings. Human commercial activities on land have gradually damaged and ruined the environment, forcing wildlife to migrate further away and adapt to new environments. As a result, some species have died while attempting to adapt, some have become extinct. And, others are on the verge of becoming extinct.
Landfills and dump sites emit foul odours and stenches in the locations where they are located. Residents in cities and towns near large dump sites and landfill areas have reported excessive levels of a noxious odour. Aside from the unpleasant odour, landfills are constantly burning, contributing to air pollution.
Also read: Air Pollution Effects and Causes – A complete overview
Negative Impact on Tourism Industry
Landfills and abandoned waste disposal within cities generally create a negative picture of the population and the city’s governance. Landfills and garbage sites also degrade air quality and may pose a health risk to humans. As a result, it causes a city to lose its tourist appeal. This results in a loss of tourism revenue for the government.
Shall we wrap up?
Many of the long-term effects of land pollution, such as chemical leaching into the soil, groundwater poisoning are difficult to remediate. The most effective strategy to combat land contamination is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. The problem will not aggravate if we increase recycling activities and avoid abuse of soil. Let’s all contribute to cleanup operations wherever feasible and prevent land pollution from getting worse.