#StopSoilPollution… be the Solution to Soil pollution was the central call for this year’s commemoration of World Soil Day headed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to raise awareness and encourage people to take action over the threatening reality of soil pollution. The global community recognizes soil pollution as a hidden danger to people’s health and food security.
“Soil pollution” refers to the presence in the soil of a chemical or substances at a higher than normal concentration that has adverse effects on any non-targeted organism. Soil pollution often cannot be directly assessed or visually perceived, making it a hidden danger.
Based on FAO data, about one-thirds of our global soils are already degraded and the risk of soil pollution is still unknown as certain data are not available on a global scale. This may lead soil degradation, poisons the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe.
World Soil Day recognizes the importance of soil as a critical component of the natural system and as a vital contributor to the humanities’ food, water, and energy security, and as a mitigator of biodiversity loss and climate change.
Here in the Philippines, the Department of Agriculture, thru the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM), launched the Philippine Soil Partnership (PSP) during the celebration of the World Soil Day on December 5, 2018. The PSP aims to improve soil governance at the national level to encourage partner institutions to act together in order to protect and preserve the limited soil resources of the country. It also seeks to promote sustainable soil management, which envision healthy and productive soils for the country.
BSWM appeals to every Filipino to protect conserve and preserve our remaining area of productivity. Soil pollution poses serious threat to food security and safety; causes groundwater contamination, loss of soil biodiversity and risk to human health. At present, according to BSWM, we don’t have the national assessment on soil pollution and researches on how to mitigate these chemicals that may cause soil pollution.
On the other hand, the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) also commemorates the World Soil Day and highlighted the importance of soil as a critical component of the natural system and as a vital contributor to human wellbeing. However, according to them, despite the essential role that soil plays in human livelihoods, there is a worldwide increase in degradation of soil resources due to inappropriate management practices, population pressure driving unsustainable intensification and inadequate governance over this essential resource.
Based on scientific evidence, soil pollution can severely degrade the major ecosystem services provided by soil. Soil pollution reduces food security by both reducing crop yields due to toxic levels of contaminants and by causing crops produced from polluted soils to be unsafe for consumption by animals and humans. Many contaminants (including major nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus) are transported from the soil to surface waters and ground water, causing great environmental harm through eutrophication and direct human health issues due to polluted drinking water. Pollutants also directly harm soil microorganisms and larger soil-dwelling organisms and hence affect soil biodiversity and the services provided by the affected organisms.
FAO’s revised World Soil Charter recommends that every government implement regulations on soil pollution and limit the accumulation of contaminants beyond established levels in order to guarantee human health and wellbeing, a healthy environment and safe food. Governments are also urged to facilitate remediation of contaminated soils that exceed levels established to protect the health of humans and the environment. It is also essential to limit pollution from agricultural sources by the global implementation of sustainable soil management practices.