December 2020

Soil contamination poses a serious challenge to agricultural productivity, food security and human health, but very little is known about the scale and severity of the threat, a new FAO report warns.

Soil contamination
So far no systematic assessment of the state of soil pollution has been carried out around the world, the report notes. However, the United Nations explains that current data help us understand the kind of risks that pollution exposes to soils, but they do not reflect the difficulty of soil contamination on the planet and highlight the insufficient information available and the differences in the registration of contaminated sites in different geographical areas.
Hidden health risk
Soil contamination cannot constantly be perceived or evaluated directly, which makes it a hidden risk, with serious consequences. And, obviously, soil contaminated with dangerous resources (for example, arsenic, lead and cadmium), organic chemicals or pharmaceuticals — such as antibiotics or endocrine disruptors — pose serious dangers for human health.
The report found that 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.
“Transitioning from soil degradation to practices that restore soil is critical to ensure the food security and wellbeing of generations to come”, according to soil expert Abdelkader Bensada.
Source: UNEP