Today’s soil contamination is a direct result of man-made chemicals or other changes in nature’s soil environment. This contamination most commonly occurs from underground storage tanks bursting, use of pesticides, discarding oil and fuel illegally, leakage of dirty surface water, draining of wastes from landfalls and knowingly dumping industrial wastes into the soil. The most widespread chemicals found are petroleum hydrocarbons, solvents, common pesticides, lead and additional heavy metals. This development of contamination is compared with the quantity of industrializations and the severity of chemical usage.
The largest concern regarding soil contamination is the health risks that are caused by this pollution. Health can be compromised by touching the soil as well as from secondary pollution of water supplies. Locating contaminated soil sites and enforcing cleanup procedures can be expensive and involve a slow recovery process. In addition, it requires skilled professionals in geology, hydrology, chemistry and computer modeling. Most of the contaminated land has been identified in North America and Western Europe. A legal foundation has been put in place to recognize and handle this environmental issue in many of their countries.
Since the 1970’s, the People’s Republic of China has maintained an extremely large growth pattern which has demanded a massive amount of land and increased soil pollution. According to the State Environmental Protection Administration this is dangerous to the surroundings, to food safety and the continual production of agriculture. One-tenth of China’s crop land, which exists mostly in economically developed areas, has been contaminated.
The United States may have one of the most massive soil contaminations, but is a leader in outlining and executing standards for cleanup. While other industrialized countries have an abundance of contaminated sites, they do not have the remediation the United States has put into place. Thousands of sites undergo cleanup in the U.S. each year. Cleanup is performed by using microbes, excavation and a more costly extraction or air stripping.