How does soil and groundwater pollution affect human life and environment?

How does soil and groundwater pollution affect human life and environment?

 

READING TIME: 5 minutes


 

If we must give a “definition” to soil pollution, it would be: “the more or less important concentration of toxic substances in soils, whatever their type“[1], as explained by the media “Conservation Nature”.

Unfortunately, it is important to know that a serious soils degradation has been caused during the 20th century and it is not going to get better by 2050, with a forecast of 95% of degraded soils. Currently, according to a study done by the European Commission’s scientific service, 75% of the world’s soils are in poor condition[2].

To have an idea in figures, it takes 1000 years to reconstitute one centimeter of soil. In Europe, for example, every hour, 11 hectares of soil disappear due to the construction of cities[3]. If we want to preserve our planet, we must react.

To do so, we invite you to explore the causes and consequences of soil and groundwater pollution. By understanding a problem, it is easier to find concrete solutions.

 

SOIL POLLUTION

The causes of soil pollution can be multiple: leaking oil tanks, pollutants spilled in nature or falling as dust, incidents caused by the handling of hazardous materials, leaking sewers, urban waste[4], … In other words, global soil pollution is mainly due to industry, increased agricultural activity, wars and human waste[5].

What becomes more dangerous is that the contaminated soil can be in contact with water and air, which could cause pollutants’ ingestion by drinking this water and/or eating food from polluted agricultural soils or soil pollutants’ inhalation by breathing contaminated air[6].

Soil contaminants’ effects on human beings and environment are various and may differ according to the type of pollutant concerned. For example, some consequences can appear at the level of the food chain and plants[7].

Indeed, in some cases, food becomes dangerous to eat and the soil organisms’ fertility decreases[8]: organisms no longer have enough organic matter essential to their survival, which involves a reduction in the nutrients necessary for living beings and, de facto, weaker protection against the infiltration of pollutants into food, groundwater, plants consumed by animals and that will themselves be consumed by human beings[9].

In addition, sometimes, the mineral salts and nutrients normally provided by water are no longer brought to the soil[10].

 

GROUNDWATER POLLUTION

Concerning groundwater pollution, it is mainly due to the pollution’s direct infiltration or to migration from contaminated soil. Contaminated groundwater can provoke diverse impacts on human health (through direct assimilation of polluted groundwater) or on the environment with which the water is in contact[11].

So, obviously, some diseases can be caused by soil and groundwater pollution: cancers, neurological problems[12], … To know the risks, it depends on the type of pollutant, the time and the frequency to which the human being was exposed[13].

soil and groundwater pollution's impact on human life

Soil and groundwater pollution’s impact on human life.

 

BELGIAN REGULATIONS

In order to remediate and/or manage contaminated soils to maintain or restore a tolerable level of risk to human health, groundwater and ecosystems, legislative measures have been adopted. As soil management is a regional competence, the relevant legislation is adapted among the 3 regions in Belgium.

Here are the main Belgian laws concerning soil pollution:

  • Brussels Capital with the “Ordonnance Sol” of 2009 modified in 2017 with the IBGE as control body
  • Wallonia with the “Décret Sols” of 2018 with the DAS as control body
  • Flanders with the “Bodemdecreet” of 2006 and the “Vlarebo” of 2007 with the OVAM as control body

They all have the same objective: to preserve the quality of soils by preventing pollution or ensuring its remediation. To achieve this, investigations must be carried out. Whenever detected, the pollution must be qualified, quantified and delimited to find the appropriate solution. Depending on the pollutant’s nature, level and situation, measures are taken to remediate polluted areas and/or to make the risks associated to a tolerable particular pollution[14].

 

REMEDIATION TECHNOLOGIES

As a company specialized in soil remediation, here are the solutions we offer: our technology “The Smart Burners” applicable In Situ (in urban areas, under existing buildings, in a cellar or for deep contamination) and Ex Situ (for soil treatment when the soil is treated on site after excavation (no off-site transport) as well as the LNAPL Skimming technology. This technology is exclusive and based on the pumping-skimming of hydrocarbons in free phase. In other words, it is a groundwater treatment system. The pollutants are recovered as fast as the permeability of the soil allows thanks to a maximized dynamic technology.

As you can see, remediating soil pollution is imperative if we want to maintain a healthy and sustainable environmental future.

 

[1] Conservation Nature, Pollution des sols : Définition, causes et conséquences ;
Article: https://www.conservation-nature.fr/ecologie/la-pollution-des-sols/
[2] Ibidem.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Environnement.brussels, Quel est l’impact sur la santé ;
Article (2017): https://environnement.brussels/thematiques/sols/le-sol-en-bref-et-en-video/quel-est-limpact-sur-la-sante
[5] ONU info, La pollution des sols est une menace importante pour l’agriculture et la sécurité alimentaire (FAO) ;
News (2018) : https://news.un.org/fr/story/2018/05/1012902
[6] Environnement.brussels, Quel est l’impact sur la santé ; Article (2017) : https://environnement.brussels/thematiques/sols/le-sol-en-bref-et-en-video/quel-est-limpact-sur-la-sante
[7] ONU info, La pollution des sols est une menace importante pour l’agriculture et la sécurité alimentaire (FAO) ; News (2018) : https://news.un.org/fr/story/2018/05/1012902
[8] ONU info, La pollution des sols est une menace importante pour l’agriculture et la sécurité alimentaire (FAO) ; News (2018) : https://news.un.org/fr/story/2018/05/1012902
[9] Conservation Nature, Pollution des sols : Définition, causes et conséquences ; Article : https://www.conservation-nature.fr/ecologie/la-pollution-des-sols/
[10] Ibidem.
[11] Sol et Déchets en Wallonie, La pollution locale des sols : Des sols malmenés ; Newsletter : https://sol.environnement.wallonie.be/home/sols/autres-menaces/pollution-locale.html
[12] Conservation Nature, Pollution des sols : Définition, causes et conséquences ; Article : https://www.conservation-nature.fr/ecologie/la-pollution-des-sols/
[13] Sol et Déchets en Wallonie, La pollution locale des sols : Des sols malmenés ; Newsletter : https://sol.environnement.wallonie.be/home/sols/autres-menaces/pollution-locale.html
[14] Cellule Environnement, Le Décret sols : son application avec le permis d’environnement, Article (2020) : https://environnement-entreprise.be/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/DOC_Decret_Sol_PE_2020.pdf

social position
dolor et, odio mi, leo ut non nunc lectus