Causes and Effects of Land Pollution

Land pollution is one of the gravest kinds of pollutions. I say so because we do not realize when and how we pollute land due to different things we do and decisions we take. We realize the air is getting polluted when we step out of our houses and take a deep breath. We know when our actions cause water pollution, for we can see for ourselves the quality of the water worsening. Similarly noise, light, visual pollution can all be monitored, because we can all see or sense these kinds of pollution. However, land pollution is a hard one to get since we do not understand and we cannot comprehend which of our actions cause destruction of land.
What is Land Pollution? When the anthropogenic effects of development adversely affect land (especially in turns of quality of land), it can be termed as land pollution. This brings us to an important question – what counts as an adverse effect? The answer is simple – anything that reduces the productivity and potential of a piece of land. Here, ‘productivity and potential’ refers to prospective uses of a piece of land for any of the different purposes for which land is used; including infrastructure, housing, services, agriculture, forestry, etc.
If any of the effects of human development reduce the potential of a piece of land to be used for any good purpose, it amounts to land pollution. Causes of Land Pollution 1. Degenerative Actions encompass a lot of human actions, including – deforestation, overuse of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, desertification, mining, inefficient and / or inadequate waste treatment, landfill, litter, etc. Many of these are unavoidable; however, definitely the severity of these actions in terms of the effects they have on the land can be reduced by taking appropriate and adequate corrective measure.

For example, the amount of litter produced can be hugely reduced if we all strictly say NO to plastic. The key here is to conduct a thorough EIA – Environmental Impact Assessment. 2. Misuse of Land mainly refers to felling of trees to clear land for agriculture, as well as processes like desertification and land conversion. Desertification is when anthropogenic effects of human development and / or other actions converts a piece of (essentially) fertile land into desert-land or dryland. Isn’t that a scary thought?
Land once converted to desert-land can never be reclaimed by any amount of corrective measures. This is also a serious issue because t does not only affect the land, but also the overall biodiversity of a place, specially when land is cleared for agriculture. A lot of indigenous flora and fauna is lost in the process. 3. Inefficient Use of Land – surprised? Does inefficient use of land count as a cause of land pollution? Yes. Why? Due to the consequences of inefficient use of land. Inefficient use of land as such is not going to cause land pollution.
However, inefficient use of land amounts to wastage, and hence shortage of land; and it is precisely during such conditions that man has to resort to measure such as deforestation and others to meet his needs. It is an important, albeit an indirect cause of land pollution that is often largely neglected. 4. Soil Pollution is when the top-most ‘soil’ layer of land is destroyed or polluted. Soil pollution is again another cause of land pollution that affects not only the land, but also a lot of other things such as forest cover of a region, productivity of land in terms of agriculture, grazing etc.
Soil pollution is also caused by wrong agricultural practices, such as overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This causes non-biodegradable chemicals to enter and accumulate in the food-chain – a process often referred to as biomagnification of a pollutant. 5. Land Conversion is the process whereby a piece of land is converted from its indigenous form to a form used for either agriculture or infrastructure. Land conversion is especially a growing problem that we possibly do not have a good – or a good enough – solution for.
The best way to avoid land conversion is to make efficient use of the available land. Using a piece of land to its maximum potential is the key to eliminate many of the causes of land pollution. Other key causes of land pollution include – urbanization, improper waste disposal, industrial activities, nuclear research, chemicals released by all sorts of heavy industries, coal-fired power plants, metals production industries, etc. Effects of Land Pollution 1. Effects on Climate Land pollution can affect the general environment of the Earth.
Land pollutions leads to loss in the forest cover of Earth. This is in turn going to affect the amount of rain. Less rains mean lesser vegetation. The effect of all different kinds of pollution will eventually lead to problems like acid rains, greenhouse effect, global warming. All of these problems have already initiated and need to be curbed before the situation runs out of control. 2. Extinction of Species One of the major causes of concern is the extinction of species. Species are pushed towards endangerment and extinction primarily by two processes.
Habitat fragmentation is the fragmentation of the natural habitat of an organism; cause primarily by urban sprawl. Habitat destruction, on the other hand, is when land clearing adversely affects animals special such that their natural habitat is lost. Both the actions can cause some species to go extinct and others to become invasive. 3. Biomagnification Biomagnification is the process in which certain non-biodegradable substances go on accumulating in the food-chain (in one or more species).
The most common example is of methylmercury in fish and mercury in eagles. Not only does biomagnification put the particular species at risk, it puts all the species above and below it at risk, and ultimately affects the food pyramid. 4. Effects on Biodiversity Species extinction and biomagnification is going to overthrow the balance of nature very significantly. The main reason for this is disturbance created in the food chain. To give you a very simple example – on account of biomagnification of mercury in eagles, they might go extinct in the subsequent years.
However, we know eagles prey on snakes. Less (or no) eagles will then result in more number of snakes! As you may have realized, land pollution is indeed going to affect a lot more things than we though it will. Hence, I leave you with some corrective measure you can take on a personal level to reduce land pollution. Encourage organic farming – buy organic food. Proper garbage disposal – separate your garbage before you give it to the garbage collector; and strictly say NO to plastic.
Encourage recycling – buy recycled products, notebooks, paper, etc. Restrict use of herbicides and pesticides – they are not only used in farm, but in your own backyard as well. If we reduce our contribution to garbage and litter, therein itself we will be able to significantly reduce land pollution and probably curb it entirely in the near future. Also do realize this isn’t only about land pollution; it is about all kinds of pollution. We need to take steps to prevent damaging our Earth. We have no other place to go.

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