7.5.3  Soil and land pollution

Soil pollution, also called land pollution, is linked to water pollution. Liquid wastes containing toxic chemicals or pathogenic micro-organisms on the surface of the land can seep slowly into the soil and may percolate down to contaminate groundwater, which can affect people using springs or wells in the area. Possible sources include open defecation, pit latrines or leaking storage containers for industrial chemicals and wastes.

Solid waste can cause soil pollution. A collection of solid wastes in one place or scattered around is unsightly and might smell bad to you as you pass by (Figure 7.10). Household waste typically consists mostly of food waste that will gradually decompose. This produces a bad odour and attracts insects and rats, both of which contribute to the transmission of disease. As the waste decomposes it produces a liquid called leachate which trickles down into the soil. Leachate is a highly concentrated liquid pollutant that may contain toxic chemicals and pathogenic micro-organisms as well as high levels of organic compounds. Rainwater falling on, and washing through, solid waste adds to the problem.

Figure 7.10  Urban solid waste contains a mixture of many different types of waste and can pollute soil and water if it is not contained and managed correctly.

7.5.2  Air pollution

Summary of Session 7