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One key question that is proposed in regards to the topic of soil contamination is, is it the same as soil pollution? Before one can specifically address the issue of soil contamination one must distinguish it from soil pollution. It is often assumed that soil pollution and soil contamination are entirely the same, but that is not a correct assumption to have. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) pollution is defined as the, “introduction by man, directly or indirectly, of substances or energy into the environment (including estuaries) resulting in such deleterious effects as harm to living resource and hazards to human health”whereas contamination is defined as,“the presence of elevated concentrations of substances in the environment above the natural background level for the area and for the organism” (FAO, 2000). Soil contamination follows the provided definition of contamination but pertains to the specific topic of soil. Some key characteristics of soil contamination is that it results from human activity and when contamination begins to harm living organisms it can then be defined as a soil pollution. The FAO gives key examples of soil contamination types such as: pesticides, herbicides, and chemicals (FAO, 2000). It is important to distinguish the difference between soil pollution and soil contamination to fine tune possible solution to the problem as well as to be able to properly asses the risk of soil contamination.
By: Maryah Jackson, Portland State University
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2011, May 5). Assessing Soil Contamination: A Reference Manual. Retrieved January 15, 2015 from http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/x2570e/x2570e00.htm
Sciortino, J., & Ravikumar, R. (2000, March 3). Fishery Harbour Manual on the Prevention of Pollution - Bay of Bengal Programme. Retrieved January 15, 2015, from http://www.fao.org