Publication date: 02/05/2018


Soil pollution poses a worrisome threat to agricultural productivity, food safety, and human health, but far too little is known about the scale and severity of that threat,

Concerns about soil pollution are growing in every region. Recently, the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA-3) adopted a resolution calling for accelerated actions and collaboration to address and manage soil pollution. This consensus, achieved by more than 170 countries, is a clear sign of the global relevance of soil pollution and of the willingness of these countries to develop concrete solutions to address the causes and impacts of this major threat.

The main anthropogenic sources of soil pollution are the chemicals used in or produced as byproducts of industrial activities, domestic, livestock and municipal wastes (including wastewater), agrochemicals, and petroleum-derived products. These chemicals are released to the environment accidentally, for example from oil spills or leaching from landfills, or intentionally, as is the case with the use of fertilizers and pesticides, irrigation with untreated wastewater, or land application of sewage sludge. Soil pollution also results from atmospheric deposition from smelting, transportation, spray drift from pesticide applications and incomplete combustion of many substances as well as radionuclide deposition from atmospheric weapons testing and nuclear accidents. New concerns are being raised about emerging pollutants such as pharmaceuticals, endocrine disruptors, hormones and toxins, among others, and biological pollutants, such as micropollutants in soils, which include bacteria and viruses.

This book aims to summarise the state of the art of soil pollution, and to identify the main pollutants and their sources affecting human health and the environment, paying special attention to those pollutants that are present in agricultural systems and that reach humans through the food chain. It concludes with some case studies of the best available techniques for assessing and remediating contaminated soils.


Resource type: Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)