Can you imagine eating soil? It is hard to believe, but in some parts of the world, particularly in less developed countries, people may have to resort to eating soil when there is nothing else available. However, research has shown that this can have serious health implications such as anaemia and retarded growth.

Additionally, in particularly dry countries where soil is eroded by the wind, people can become seriously ill simply by inhaling soil particles. Research has shown that breathing in soil can cause elephantiasis (which is the swelling of limbs due to the blockage of the lymph nodes) and even cancer.

Investigating the links between soil and our health has become an increasing priority for soil scientists. However, in order to achieve this, they still need to work more closely with geochemists, medical scientists and food and farming experts.