Effects of Land Pollution

Effects of solid waste

In many cities in Africa, there is sustained urbanization, at a rate of about 3.3 %. This comes with massive consumption of material goods. Waste is created in the process, but unfortunately, the less than 50% of the waste is collected by local authorities. The rest end up in backyard landfills, drainage systems and roadsides.

This picture is not exclusive to Asia and Africa alone. There are slums in developed countries too that harbour lots of waste and has very poor waste collection services. Others too, have the waste collected but sent to landfills with poor regulation. The content of the waste often depends on the characteristic of that settlement in question.

Areas with lots of industrial activity have larger waste deposits, with more metal, chemical and hazardous discharges, whereas areas with low economic activity have more organic waste deposits. Whether they are collected or not, they have harmful effects on humans, environments and ecosystems. Plastic waste, for example, may contain polyvinyl chloride, phthalates, polycarbonate, polystyrene or acrylic, all of which can cause birth effects, cancer, skin diseases, breathing difficulty and eye irritation.

Effects of chemicals and healthcare waste

Chemicals such as chromium, cadmium, asbestos, arsenic, cyanide and mercury, usually found in waste from pharmaceuticals, fertilizer and pesticide industries also have harmful effects on human health. Arsenic is highly poisonous, and together with asbestos, have cancer-causing properties. The others cause liver damage, lung and kidney diseases when humans come into contact with them.

Healthcare waste such as carcasses, body parts, broken instruments and metals are all contaminated waste and can be harmful to humans if they are not disposed of properly. These chemicals also have adverse effects on the soils and lands on which they end up, harming other life-forms and disrupting land ecosystems. Some of the chemical concentrations in the soils are released during run-off into nearby water bodies. Leaching also occurs, resulting in toxic chemicals infiltrating into water tables and aquifers.

Effects of deforestation

Deforestation destroys habitats and ecosystems. It also drives animals further away and even exposes them to predators and harmful conditions. It also results in exposing the soils to erosion, acidification, runoff and leaching. Deforestation has economic effects as well, as it deprives the community of revenue from tourism. The loss of vegetative cover, together with biodiversity also has economic implications.