Common Types of Soil Contaminants

Soil is a valuable resource for applications such as farming and construction of residential and commercial buildings. Unfortunately, the quality of the land can be compromised through pollution resulting from anthropogenic activities. In simple terms, soil contamination refers to the presence of hazardous materials, usually man-made, in the soil. These alter the natural physical and chemical properties of the land, leading to a decline in the soil quality and environmental degradation.

In addition, this unfavourable state contributes to health risks when human beings come in direct contact with the soil. These problems can be eliminated through the excavation and contaminated soil removal. In some mild cases, the soil can be modified without complete elimination. The course of action will depend on the quantity and type of substance present in your land. Here is a description of the common types of soil contaminants.

Heavy Metals

Heavy metals are dense metal compounds with toxic properties, especially with regard to the environment. The common elements in this category which contribute to soil contamination include lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury and zinc. This type of pollution is hazardous because these elements persist in the soil for a long duration after introduction. When the heavy metals are in farm land, they can be easily incorporated into the food chain leading to ingestion by humans. Moreover, these will compromise the food quality and the contaminants may find their way to the underground water. Common sources of heavy metals in soil include leaded fuel, paints, sewage, wastewater and industrial waste spillage.


Pests are problematic in farming spaces and pesticides are used to control their population. The term ‘pest’ encompasses animals such as insects, rodents, birds, mollusks and nematodes. Basically, any animal which destroys property, spreads diseases, competes with man for food and causes nuisance is a pest. Unfortunately, pesticides are made from toxic chemicals which have negative effects on human beings and the environment. All pesticides are not soil contaminants, but there are compounds that will persist in your soil. For example, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) is a highly toxic compound which is persistent in soil. There are restrictions and bans imposed on its production and usage but the material can be present due to past application.


Petrochemicals refer to substances derived from petroleum hydrocarbons. This type of contaminants can occur if your property has experienced oil spillage through an accident. Poisoning can occur through inhalation and ingestion of petrochemicals like benzene. It is advisable to contract a contaminated soil removal contractor for assistance immediately after a spill to avoid prolonged issues.