Causes and Effects of Land Pollution

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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...
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