Types of soil contamination

When talking about soil contamination , reference is made to the alteration of the earth’s surface, due to chemical substances, either by natural causes or by human hands. These alterations harm ecosystems and people’s health.

The causes of this type of pollution are diverse, however, among the main ones we can name the use of chemical fertilizers , the incorrect storage of waste and the accumulation of garbage.

  • 1 Types of soil contamination
    • 1.1 Anthropic pollution
    • 1.2 Natural pollution
    • 1.3 Infiltration
    • 1.4 Runoff surface
    • 1.5 Vacant lots

Types of soil contamination

Anthropic pollution

It refers to the type of pollution caused by human intervention, both domestic and industrial or mining. The increase in population and its concentration in large urban centers and industrial and agricultural development. According to the causes, it is divided into two types.

  • Direct anthropic contamination:  comes from domestic services, industrial tributaries, mining, landfills and some agricultural uses. For the most part, it refers to wastes that circulate through pipes and surface water bodies.
  • Indirect anthropic pollution: it  comes mainly from agriculture.

This type of soil contamination is influenced by most of the chemicals used by man for agriculture. For instance:

  • Pesticides:  used to exterminate pests. They can stay for ten years or more in the ground and do not decompose.
  • Herbicides: they  are a type of chemical compound that destroys vegetation. They prevent the growth of vegetables in their juvenile stage and exert an action on the metabolism of adult vegetables.
  • Fungicides: these  are copper and sulfur- based pesticides used to combat the development of fungi.

Natural pollution

As its name indicates, this type of pollution responds to causes of nature itself. For example, metamorphic rocks have high percentages of chromium and nickel , which affect the soil to various degrees.


When surface water infiltrates the soil, this type of contamination occurs, mainly due to its porosity . The size of the infiltration will depend on the type of soil and the amount of water found on the surface.

Runoff surface

Together with the construction of the housing estates, surfaces resistant to water absorption have been created, however, this causes surface water runoff . For this reason, rain and snowmelt are forced to form streams that collect pollutants when soil erosion occurs. Surface runoff carries petroleum materials, fertilizers and pesticides that accumulate in the holes in the soil.

When industrial or commercial facilities have caused damage to the soil and the environment, the area of ​​damage is called Wasteland. These facilities are often kept loaded with low concentrations of hazardous waste and environmental pollutants. Due to this, the composition of the soil is full of hydrocarbon particles , heavy metals and solvents .

It also affects the possible use of underground storage tanks, which could lead to container leaks. Over time, these continue to leak and affect the surrounding soil.

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