Types of Soil Contamination

Soil contamination is a major concern because the problem depletes soil of nutrients vital to sustaining life. Plants, trees and vegetation provide humans and other life forms with the necessary oxygen to survive. Understanding the types of soil contamination enables each of us to make a difference in our daily lives to prevent soil contamination.

Improper Residential Trash Disposal

Something as simple as improper trash disposal can have a lasting impact on soil. Trash that never makes it to the landfill or recycling facility becomes buried over time. As the trash decomposes, it produces a small amount of soil toxins. When homeowners burn trash, it produces harmful gases that seep into nearby vegetation and soil areas. The majority of states have burning bans on household products and trash. Improper disposal of oil and other products for car maintenance causes these products to seep into the soil and water sources for further contamination.

Pesticides and Herbicides

The use of pesticides and herbicides creates soil contamination problems. Spray from these chemicals are caught by the wind and deposited into the soil in other areas. Improper disposal of leftover chemicals and improper washing of equipment further increases the problem. While the chemicals do help to eradicate growing problems, they interfere with the natural balance of the soil.


Landfills are good in that they dispose of large amounts of solid waste. However, landfills contaminate nearby soil and can even harm nearby watersheds and water supplies. The slightest defect in the landfill system can pose numerous problems and cause soil contamination.

Industrial Waste

Industrial waste is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to minimize pollution and soil contamination. Ideally, all industries would comply with the mandated regulations. Improper dumping of industrial waste causes significant problems with soil contamination. Gases, fumes and chemicals that rise from smoke stacks decrease soil quality and natural balances.

Acid Rain

Water vapor and rain drops catch air pollutants. These are then transferred to the soil through acid rain. Even morning dew on the grass can contain air pollution. The balance of nutrients in the soil is greatly changed as air pollution is absorbed into the ground.

Gas and Oil

Homeowners and residential properties often use power landscaping tools. Many of these require gas and oil. Leakage from this type of equipment seeps into the soil, causing contamination. Oil and gas spills pose many environmental hazards and complications.

Keywords: soil contamination, soil pollution, contaminate soil

About this Author

Joyce Priddy has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in psychology, with a minor in early childhood development. She has been freelance writing for five years and primarily writes for eHow.