Addressing soil impacts on public health: Issues and recommendations

Roni A. Neff, Cheryl Carmona, Rebecca Kanter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


The word “human” derives from the Latin “humus,” meaning soil, perhaps reecting an ancient understanding of soil’s importance to human existence (Merriam-Webster, 2008). Soil health and human health intertwine in multiple and powerful ways. As will be described, soil is fundamental to our food security. However, soil degradation may be threatening the ability to feed populations, both in the United States and globally. Soil is also an important vector for human exposure to pathogens and toxic contaminants, which contribute to an as yet unquantiable portion of the burden of cancer and other chronic diseases, as well as to health conditions resulting from acute exposures. Additionally, poor soil health contributes to climate change, water degradation, and other ecological conditions with human health effects including infections, respiratory conditions, heat stress, injury, and the stresses of social dislocation (Helmke and Losco, Chapter 7; Brevik, Chapter 16, this volume). Many of these soil-related impacts are inequitably distributed across populations, both geographically and demographically. Contemporary public health has afforded little attention to soil or its impact on food security and ecological threats, although a range of public health activities do address soil contamination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSoils and Human Health
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages37
ISBN (Electronic)9781439844557
ISBN (Print)9781439844540
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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