Soil pollution occurs when hazardous solid or liquid contaminates mix with naturally occurring soil. These contaminates attach physically or chemically to the soil. Pollution that does not attach to the soil becomes trapped in spaces between particles of soil.
Soil contamination occurs in several different ways. Humans sometimes bury liquids or solids in the earth as a means of waste disposal. At other times, humans pollute the ground by industrial activities, as when pollution from a smokestack spreads to the surrounding area polluting the soil as it falls to the ground. Runoff water, contaminated by the misuse of agricultural chemicals, pollutes the ground as is runs over and through it. Soil pollution affects plants, animals and humans. Plants growing in contaminated soil take up hazardous waste through their root systems. The health of humans and animals is adversely impacted by touching, ingesting or inhaling the contaminated soil. Consuming plants from polluted fields or the animals that consume these plants causes the hazardous materials to indirectly affect human health. Agricultural workers and others who work in the soil are adversely affected. Pollution affects children who play in contaminated areas. Some of the contamination is absorbed through the skin. Polluted surface particles become airborne, leading to inhalation danger.