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Land Pollution


September 2012 picture 1Land pollution is generated by human activities.  Most often it is forgotten that the land we live in forms part of our environment, together with the air we breathe and the water we drink. Land pollution often results in habitat loss, land degradation, littering and soil contamination. 


Littering - Non bio-degradable wastes such as plastic bags, plastic bottles and other plastic articles, nylon substances and cans can remain in an ecosystem for a very long time without breaking down or decomposing. Many of these wastes ended up in storm water systems, streams and rivers where some animals might try to eat them (especially plastics) which could result in the blockage of their digestive system and ultimately resulting in death.


  • Polluted drinking waters are a problem for about half of the world’s population. Each year there are approximately 250 million cases of water-based diseases, resulting in roughly 5 to 10 million deaths.
  • 80% of marine pollution comes from land-based sources
  • 6.5 million tons of litter enter the world’s ocean each year. 50% is long-lasting plastic that will drift for hundreds of years before it is degraded.
  • According to Worldometers, the world experienced more than 6.2 million hectares of desertification in the first 7 months of 2011.
  • Over 51 billion pieces of litter are thrown onto the roads in the United States annually. Litter cleanup costs an estimated $11.5 billion in the U.S. each year.
  • Soil is a non-renewable natural resource. This should make us think of how much we value this resource. Damage to the soil can disturb nature’s balance and prove a threat to life
  • It can take more than 500 years to form 2 centimetres of topsoil.
  • According to (GDARD, 2011) more than 55% of Gauteng’s natural habitat has been lost with only 798,397 ha of natural and semi-natural land remaining in a highly fragmented state due urbanisation.
  • It is estimated that Gauteng generates approximately 42% of the total waste produced, or nearly half of all waste in South Africa (GDARD, 2011). 
  • It is estimated that every year approximately 2 million tons of waste is dumped illegally in Gauteng (GDARD, 2009).


  • Be aware of public health issues in order to prevent the incident of water born related diseases. For more information visit:
  • Reduce waste by reusing it as other useful resources.  e.g. kitchen peels into compost. For more information on composting visit the Water Wise website.
  • Separate waste into different categories for example glass, paper, tins and plastics.
  • Reduce the use of toxic chemicals and pesticides and choose eco-friendly alternatives. 
  • Participate in community environmental greening initiatives such as tree planting and cleaning up campaigns.

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