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How to Combat Soil Pollution

When a harmful or toxic substance has contaminated the surface of the soil, it can certainly evaporate, be swept away by rainwater, and or enter the soil. Pollution that enters the soil then settles as a toxic chemical in the soil. Toxic substances in the soil can have a direct impact on human life when in contact or can contaminate groundwater and air above it.

Thus, it can be concluded that soil pollution is a state where man-made chemicals enter and change the natural soil environment. This pollution usually occurs due to leakage of liquid waste or industrial chemicals or commercial facilities; use of pesticides; the ingress of polluted groundwater into the sub-surface layer; accident of oil, chemical, or waste transport vehicles; wastewater from landfills and industrial waste that is directly discharged into the soil ineligible.

Factors Causing Soil Pollution

how to combat soil pollution

Not much different from water and air pollution, soil pollution is also a lot of causes. These causes include domestic waste, industrial waste, and agricultural waste.

a. Domestic Waste

Domestic waste can come from areas such as residential areas (merchants, businesses, hotels, and others); institutions (government and private offices); and tourist attractions. Domestic waste can be a solid and liquid waste. 

The difference between solid and liquid waste, namely solid waste can be inorganic compounds that can not be destroyed or decomposed by microorganisms. Such as plastics, fibers, ceramics, cans, and building materials that cause the soil to become less fertile.

While liquid waste can be in the form of feces (feces), detergents, oils, paints. If it seeps into the soil it will damage the soil water content and can even kill micro-organisms in the soil. 

Solid and liquid waste has a bad impact on the soil, so it can finally interfere with the survival of living things without exception human life itself. Especially for solid waste which is a pollutant that will remain intact for the next 300 years. Plastic wrap dumped into the environment will remain and may be discovered by our posterity hundreds of years later.

Inorganic waste is not biodegradable. This causes the soil layer to be impenetrable by the roots of plants and not translucent water so that the permeation of water and minerals that can fertilize the soil is lost and the number of microorganisms in the soil will be reduced. As a result, plants that are difficult to grow will even die from not getting food to grow and develop.

b. Industrial Waste

The industrial waste comes from the remnants of industrial production. The industrial waste can also be distinguished into two kinds, namely solid waste and liquid waste.

Industrial waste is the form of solid waste that is the result of industrial waste in the form of solids, mud, and slurry derived from the processing process. For example, the rest of the processing of sugar, pulp, paper, rayon, plywood, as well as the preservation of fruit, fish, meat, and others.

Industrial waste is the form of liquid waste that is the result of processing in a production process. For example, the remains of industrial processing- tri-metal plating and other ki-mia industries. Copper, lead, silver, chrome, arsenic, and boron are substances produced from industrial processes of coating metals such as Hg, Zn, Pb, and Cd that can contaminate the soil.

Hg, Zn, Pb, and Cd are highly toxic substances to micro-organisms. If it seeps into the soil it will result in death for microorganisms that have a very important function in soil fertility.

c. Agricultural Waste

Indonesia is known as an agrarian country with a large population eyed by farmers. However, due to ignorance, not a few farmers who use synthetic fertilizers exceed the provisions, or the way is not appropriate. As a result, agricultural waste in the form of synthetic fertilizer remains to fertilize soil or soil crops is polluted. For example, urea fertilizers and pesticides for crop pests. 

The continuous use of fertilizer in agriculture will damage the soil structure. As a result, soil fertility is reduced and can not be planted certain types of plants because soil nutrients are decreasing. The use of pesticides not only kills plant pests but also useful microorganisms in the soil. Whereas soil fertility depends on the number of organisms in it. In addition, the continued use of pesticides will result in crop pests being immune to such pesticides

Impact of Soil Pollution

All pollution will definitely harm living things, especially humans. The impact of soil pollution on health depends on the type of pollutant, the pathways into the body, and the vulnerability of the affected population. For example, chromium is a variety of pesticides and herbicides are carcinogenic materials for all populations. 

Lead is very dangerous in children, as it can cause brain damage, as well as kidney damage to the entire population. Mercury and cyclodiene can cause kidney damage, some of which are not even treatable. PCB and cyclodiene will result in liver damage marked like poisoning. Organophosphates can cause disorders of the muscle nerves. 

Various solvents containing chlorine stimulate changes in the liver and kidneys as well as a decrease in the central nervous system. There are several kinds of health impacts that appear such as headaches, dizziness, fatigue, eye irritation, and skin rashes for the chemical exposures mentioned above. At large doses, soil pollution can lead to death.

In addition to disturbing human health, soil pollution can also have an impact on ecosystems. Radical soil chemical changes can arise from the presence of toxic and harmful chemicals even at low doses. These changes can lead to metabolic changes of endemic microorganisms and arthropods living in the soil environment. As a result, these changes can wipe out some of the primary species of the food chain, can have a great effect on predators or other levels of the food chain.

Even if the chemical effect on these life forms is low, then the lower part of the food pyramid can ingest foreign chemicals that will gradually be concentrated in the upper pyramid dwelling creatures. Many of these effects are seen today, such as the concentration of DDT in birds causing the brittleness of eggshells, increased mortality rates, and the possible loss of such species.

The impact on agriculture is primarily a change in crop metabolism which can ultimately lead to a decrease in agricultural yields. This can lead to further impacts on plant conservation where plants are unable to withstand soil layers from erosion. Some of these contaminants have a long half-life and in other cases, derivative chemicals will be formed from the main soil contaminants.

How to Combat Soil Pollution

Here are two main ways that can be done when the soil is polluted, namely remediation and bioremediation. Remediation is an activity to clean the surface of polluted soil. There are two types of soil remediation, namely on-site and off-site. On-site cleaning is on-site cleaning. Cleaning is cheaper and easier. This cleaning consists of injection and bioremediation.

Off-side cleaning involves extracting contaminated soil and then being taken to a safe area. After that in a safe area, the soil is cleaned of contaminants. The trick is, the soil is stored in a tub or tank that is impermeable, then the cleaning agent is pumped into the tub/tank. Furthermore, contaminants are pumped out of the trough which is then processed by the installation of wastewater treatment. This off-side cleaning is much more expensive and complicated.

Bioremediation is the process of cleaning soil pollution using microorganisms (fungi, bacteria). Bioremediation aims to break down or degrade contaminants into less toxic or non-toxic materials (carbon dioxide and water).

One of the microorganisms that serve as bioremediation is the vesicular fungus arbuscular mycorrhiza (vam). Vam mushrooms can play a direct or indirect role in soil remediation. The fungus can play a direct role because of its ability to absorb metal elements from the soil. The fungus cannot play a direct role because it stimulates the growth of other bioremediation microorganisms, such as certain bacteria, fungi, and so on.