Soil and Health
Healthy soil is very important for human health because what is
in the soil affects the health and quality of the food we eat that
is derived from it.
For example, soil is the main source of trace elements (e.g. iodine
and cadmium), which are taken up by crops and plants, before being
consumed by us. However, the human body only needs tiny amounts
of these trace elements – too much or too little can make
us ill. Factors such as soil acidity can affect the quantity of
trace elements passing to crops, which subsequently affects us
as well. A common example is a lack of iodine, which causes problems
with the thyroid gland (vital for human growth and development).
In contrast, too much cadmium can cause kidney failure.
In the past, people working with soils (e.g. farmers and gardeners)
were highly exposed to catching tetanus, a harmful bacteria living
in the soil. These days, the risk has been substantially reduced
in many countries through immunisations. Nevertheless, there are
still many other threats such as the E.coli 0157 bacteria, which
in extreme cases can result in death. Make sure you wash your hands
after working with soil!