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Soil Pollution

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Soil Pollution - Lesson Summary

The fresh fruits and vegetables which are consuming today are harmful as most them contains chemicals, which are used during cultivation as pesticides and herbicides for better yield.
These chemicals not only kills pests and weeds, but also pollute the soil where used.
Pesticides are substances intended for preventing, destroying or controlling any pest.

Pest includes insects, mice and other animals, unwanted plants, fungi, or disease spreading microorganisms like bacteria and viruses. Insecticides and herbicides are also kinds of pesticides.
Generally, pesticides are synthetic toxic chemicals that are harmful to the environment. If the same or similar kind of pesticide is used continuously a number of times, the pests grow resistant to them. That is why pesticides with highly concentrated organic toxins were made.
For example, when insects grew resistant to DDT, organic toxins such as aldrin and dieldrin were introduced.

These pesticides are water-insoluble and non-biodegradable, and, therefore, harmful for the atmosphere. Moreover, the toxins are carried from the lower species to the higher species through the food chain. The toxins become more concentrated with each consuming rung. Although the chemical effect is minimal in the lower level species, it becomes dangerously concentrated when it reaches the upper level species, such as humans.

In humans, it causes serious metabolic and physiological disorders. Because of the harmful effects of organic toxins, more bio-degradable products with less toxin concentration, known as organo-phosphates and carbamates, were introduced. These chemicals turned out to be more harmful to humans as they contain severe nerve toxins that can cause death.

Another type of pesticides that become popular of late are herbicides like sodium chlorate and sodium arsenite.
Herbicides decompose in a few months, and hence, are less persistent than organic toxins. But, herbicides are toxic to mammals. They sometimes cause birth defects in some mammals. The toxicity of herbicides also increases with the higher level species in the food chain.

These chemicals, including pesticides and herbicides, are harmful not only for living organisms, but also for the soil. Chemicals contaminate the soil resulting in plant metabolism alteration, with a reduction in the crop yield.

Humans and other animals who live near contaminated soil are exposed to all the health risks that these chemicals bring in.

DDT was found to be a great disease control tool during World War II. After the war, it was used on a very large scale to control insects, rodents, weeds and various crop diseases. Moreover, the ill-effects of DDT on human health came to light later on. Today, some countries have banned its use.

Soil pollution can also lead to water contamination, and hence, should be treated effectively.


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