How does soil contamination affect the environment

How does soil contamination affect the environment

When we think of environmental contamination, we often immediately think of water or air pollution. However, soil contamination is a leading source of widespread environmental pollution -contributing to air and water pollution as well as being a major source of toxic substances entering the food chain.

Common sources of soil contamination:

  • Mining activities: This includes soil contamination from slag heaps, such as those found in and around Johannesburg from gold mining. Contaminants produced through mining activity are left open to wind distribution and rain runoff into soil and streams. They include heavy metals such as Uranium, and chemicals such as arsenic.
  • Industrial effluents and by-products: Manufacturing releases a range of toxic chemicals, compounds and heavy metals into the environment. Soil contamination can arise from contaminated water, from toxic by-products being buried in insecure containers, or from air pollution. Airborne pollutants can fall back to earth through rain – contaminating soil and water. An example is sulphur, which produces so-called ‘black rain’.
  • Agricultural residues and practices: Fertilisers and pesticides can cause extensive environmental pollution, through contamination of both soil and water. Crop irrigation also introduce salt pollutants that build up in the soil, and animal contaminated animal waste can add toxic substances to soil.
  • Landfills: A huge number of contaminants – from chemical compounds to microplastics, enter soil from landfills.
  • Domestic and commercial effluents: Sewage can contain large amounts of contaminants from cleaning chemicals, fats and greases and plastics. While most of these contaminants will end up in the ocean, they can also leach into soil. Toxic chemicals can build up in soil around marshes, riverbanks and in the surrounding earth – especially if the land is low lying and gets flooded.
Air contaminants in soil get churned up into the air by agricultural processes, and other physical disturbances.

How contaminants in soil impact the environment – and our health:

Water contamination
Contaminants in soil will eventually leach into groundwater, wells and aquifers. They can also get into nearby streams, ponds, dams, and rivers through erosion and run off when it rains. This can cause widespread contamination of the environment, rendering the water poisonous to drink, killing or deforming fish and other aquatic life in rivers and coastal waters, and spreading the contaminants to other areas.

Food chain contamination
Contaminants in soil can affect crops, animals and people in a number of ways. The damage can be direct, with contaminants damaging plants and destroying crops. It can also be indirect, with the contaminants entering the food chain and drinking water. It depends on the type of contamination, and the extent of the contamination.

For example, salts from irrigation water can build up in soil over time, stunting plant growth, lessening the nutritional profile of crops, and eventually making the soil ‘barren’. Other compounds, including some found in traditional cleaning chemicals, can build up in plant and animal tissue to toxic levels. Plants are highly efficient at taking up heavy and radioactive metals, chemicals from effluent and pesticides from the soil. This can poison animals as well as people who eat the vegetable produce, or meat from contaminated animals.

Some substances can be highly toxic in tiny quantities. Mercury is one such substance; this can cause birth defects in animals and people.

Air contamination:

Contaminants in soil get churned up into the air by agricultural processes, and other physical disturbances. Particulates in dry soil are also carried into the air by wind. Many of these contaminants remain airborne, continuing to circulate through the air. Toxic substances are breathed in by people and animals, or fall back to earth in other areas, further polluting the soil, water and food chain. This includes microplastics from landfills, which have lately been found to be present in the upper atmosphere and circulating the globe.

Best cleaning products for your home and business

Best cleaning products for your home and business

Environmental awareness has driven rapid advances in eco-friendly cleaning products. There is no longer any compromise involved with using environmentally responsible cleaning products – whether for your home and business.

The old ‘traditional’ cleaning products you should ‘throw out’:

You may have a maintenance cupboard, or kitchen cupboard, full of traditional cleaning products. You may be reluctant to throw them out or buy different ones. They work, so why change them? The easy answer is because now you can. It’s no longer about ‘you should’.

The latest environmentally friendly cleaning products work just as well as the traditional ones, without the toxic chemicals that are not only and for the environment, but also bad for your health. There are so many in the products ‘consumers have come to love and trust’ – from ammonia to volatile organic compounds, solvents and acids – too many to list here.

This fact can be overwhelming for consumers when it comes to choosing toxin-free products.

It’s one thing to be aware of these toxic compounds, but quite another to have to read labels and find them among the list of ingredients (in writing too small to read, at best). Let alone products that have none of them. The practical solution is to choose cleaning product lines and brands that have been developed to ‘do the dirty work for you’. They might not all be perfect, but you can rest assured that they are as eco and health friendly as cleaning product technology permits to date. So, instead of looking for what you shouldn’t use, you can look for the latest ‘green’ and toxin-free cleaning products on the market you should use – by the key characteristics they share:

Eco-friendly, ‘responsible cleaning products’ are:

  • Water-based instead of solvent based – eliminating solvent toxins
  • Made with certified biodegradable ingredients – eliminating non-biodegradable compounds
  • Free of traditional solvents, ammonia, acids, caustics and paraffin. This will be stated on the product packaging, bottle or container, according to the product and what makes it the environmentally and/or health-friendly option.
  • Microbial and natural substance (e.g. citrus) based heavy-duty cleaners (letting nature do the back-breaking work, instead of toxins)
  • Certified – according to what, and what organisation, it should be certified to, and by. Stated as such on the product, not on a flimsy wrapper or marketing flier. No-one ever looks it up, but they should, and if it’s branded on the bottle, you can look it up.
non toxic cleaning products

You can now find everything from light detergents and all-purpose cleaners, to heavy degreasers and drain cleaners with these environmentally sound attributes. This is where, as far as possible (and this varies according to the product), the product is free of toxic chemicals no longer needed to do the job. Where efficacy is now thanks to biodegradable, natural, and non-toxic ingredients.

Responsible cleaning starts with being aware that alternatives have been developed, for a reason. More than one reason, in fact. It’s not just the environment that can benefit from changing from the familiar ‘bleach’ etc. It’s also your health, and your worker’s health, if it’s for your business. There is no longer a conflict between ‘efficient and cost effective’, and ‘green’. Eco-friendly and people-friendly products are no longer at the vanguard of a change based on some airy-fairy ideal. It’s past that. It’s irresponsible to hesitate on joining that change. On the other hand, it’s responsible to choose products that are free of as many, if not all, the toxins we have been able to replace with certified, environmentally sound alternatives. It’s also not just cleaning. Now, it is also sanitising, for the ‘clear and present danger’ of Covid-19. Clean responsibly – and sanitise responsibly.

How safe is HOCL to use in the home

How safe is HOCL to use in the home

HOCL stands for Hypoclorous Acid. It is an exceptionally effective germ killer, destroying up to 99.99% of bacteria and viruses. This level of efficacy is as good as it gets, and it is recognised for its protection against Covid-19.

Despite its strength as a sanitiser, HOCL is in fact a ‘weak acid’. It’s also found naturally in the human body. In the white blood cells of all mammals in fact. It’s completely non-toxic and is used for sterilising wounds. This makes it 100% safe for use in the home.

Safe use of HOCL:

  • HOCL is safe to use on any surface – including skin and on open wounds. However it is a corrosive in large quantities, so it’s best to use a targeted amount, and no more. There’s no need to use a lot in any case, as it is so effective.
  • However, it is not safe to drink! Keep out of reach of children and don’t gargle with it! (If you could drink it, it would kill the ‘good bacteria’ in your mouth and gut that are essential for good oral health and digestive function.)

How HOCL is used in the home:

HOCL is the primary ingredient in most disinfectants, sanitisers and degreasers.

HOCL is used in:

  • Liquid sprays
  • Aerosols and foggers
  • Wet wipes
  • Hand sanitisers
  • Surface sanitisers

HOCL’s wide spectrum for use is thanks to its low-reactive qualities as well as its non-toxic chemistry. This makes it safe to mix with water for spray applications. Even though HOCL does react chemically when mixed with water, the corrosive effect is too low to cause any damage to people, pets and surfaces. It only damages the cells of bacteria and viruses.

In fact, HOCL is so safe you can use it for:

  • Sanitising your toothbrush
  • Sanitising baby bottles and pacifiers

Look for HOCL as the main sanitising ingredient in hand and surface sanitisers. It is the ideal alternative to toxic chemicals, and the non-toxic solution to all your sanitising and cleaning requirements.


Long term effects of using a cheap sanitiser

Long term effects of using a cheap sanitiser

Sanitisers used to belong in hospitals and bathrooms. Now we carry bottles of sanitisers in our handbags, our cars, to work and to the shops. We sanitise our hands every time we walk into a building – by law.

Before Covid-19 changed the world that we live in, consumers were bent toward fining natural alternative to harsh cleaning products. Now, when it comes to sanitisers, there’s an emphasis on ‘the most effective sanitisers’. Unfortunately, due to the economic impact of the Pandemic, there is a concurrent emphasis on ‘the cheapest sanitisers’. Put these two together, and you have a recipe for ‘cheap and nasty’ sanitisers that can have long term effects on surfaces, skin and human health.

 The long-term effects of cheap surface sanitisers:

  • Discoloration of many surfaces
  • Cracking of surfaces. This is particularly bad, as the cracks can become havens for bacteria and viruses, making the surface almost impossible to sanitise properly over time.

The long-term effects of cheap hand sanitisers:

  • Dermatological effects: constant daily use of hand sanitisers affects the skin. Effects include skin irritation, with long term cracking and yellowing of the skin on the palms of your hands. This is inevitable to a certain degree. However, cheap sanitisers will cause the most damage to skin.
  • Impact on overall health: Over the long term, you will absorb chemicals through your skin. Sanitisers also release chemical compounds as aerosols. These are breathed in and can impact your sinuses and lungs.

Perhaps the worst effect of cheap surface sanitisers is that they don’t work as well as they should. In or current reality, the impact could be a Covid-19 outbreak at your business or in your home. (And don’t forget about the other ‘bugs’ and contaminants we used to sanitise for!)

Luckily ‘cheap’ does not have to mean low quality. There are cost-effective, safe sanitisers on the market that have little to no long-term negative effects.

Hand and surface sanitisers can be effective as well as cost effective. They can also be eco-friendly. This is thanks to the development of bio-degradable options that work just as well, if not better, than the harsh chemicals in cheap sanitisers.


Successful Treatment at Buffalo City Waste Water

Successful Treatment at Buffalo City Waste Water


After extensive consultations and presentations to different stakeholders within the Water and Sanitation Sector, including the National Department and Local Municipalities, BlueStream Environmental Sales and Technology approached Buffalo City Metro with a view to exploring the possibility of piloting Biotreat™ and Hydro-Activator™, in order to confirm their reliability and effectiveness.

On 17 November 2015 a formal proposal was submitted to the office of the Acting Municipal Manager, Mr. N Ncunyana, requesting a platform to pilot Biotreat™.

On the 3 December 2015, we were referred to the office of the Engineering Director, where we were introduced to Mr. M Westerberg, a General Manager of the Engineering. After our presentation to him and his team an agreement to pilot was reached. The Central Waste Water Treatment Works was recommended, due to the smell pollution affecting the nearby communities.

Mr. Jonathan Clark, a Senior Process Controller for Waste Water Treatment Plants was seconded to oversee the Pilot on behalf of the Municipality, working hand-in-hand with Mr. Zwelizukile Sikhukukazi, Director of Special Projects and Stakeholder Relations at Bluestream Environmental Sales and Technology.

On the 06 December 2015 we met with Mr. Jonathan Clark in the Waste Water Treatment Plant to prepare and plan for the implementation strategy. He recommended that we focus most on the secondary digester and the treatment of Anaerobic Ponds One and Two. It was agreed that the pilot would be conducted with a view to eliminating odours, oxygenating the water, treating and eliminating algae, faeces and any other undesirable organic substances.

We agreed that the implementation strategy would include the use of Hydro-Activator, BioTreat Liquid and BioTreat Powder, in both the Anaerobic Ponds and the Secondary Digester and started the implementation on 08 December 2015. 


On 08 December 2015, we arrived in the site at around 09:00, and we met with Mr. Brad Turton, who introduced himself as a Plant Process Controller at the Central Waste Water Treatment Works. He was with three other gentlemen, whom we later learned are working for another service provider (TVR Construction) doing a daily maintenance in the plant.

Mr. Jonathan Clark was not in attendance, but Mr. Brad Turton was able to assist us and provide all the necessary support for the execution of our mandate.

Before we started the treatment we took some pictures of the current state of the anaerobic ponds, which had thick sludge on top throughout, and thereafter treated the first anaerobic pond with Hydro-Activator. We went to treat the secondary digester with BioTreat Liquid and BioTreat Powder.

The following are the pictures taken on 08 December of the anaerobic ponds and the secondary digester.

BioTreat Liquid and BioTreat Powder in the anaerobic ponds
BioTreat Liquid and BioTreat Powder in the anaerobic ponds in Buffalo City

The thick crust of the sludge buildup can clearly be seen in the above pictures.

On 10 December we revisited the site, with a view to observing the progress. It came to our attention that there was a major unpleasant smell coming out of the secondary digester, which led to us having to treat it more with BioTreat Liquid.

On 18 December we revisited the site and were pleased to realize that there was a major improvement in the condition of both the secondary digester and the anaerobic ponds, and there was a lot less smell.

We again treated the designated areas, for which we used BioTreat Liquid and BioTreat Powder in the anaerobic ponds and in the secondary digester.



The level of Sludge is slowly dropping down, and the smell emanating from the digester is greatly improved. 


When we first came to the Plant on the 6 of December, there was hard sludge on top covering the whole first anaerobic pond. The second anaerobic pond was not too bad compared to the first one, though it also needed attention. Please refer to the pictures below.


AFTER (28 days later)..Clear water, hard sludge gone, smell eliminated

AFTER (28 days later)..Clear water, hard sludge gone, smell eliminated
We believe that the above pictures, comments from residents nearby and observation of BCC Officials, are proof of the efficacy of our products

Resident’s comments:

We interviewed a number of residents of the nearby residential areas (Braelyn Shelters) and Gompo. We have also spoken to the ward Councilor of the area Cllr. Mandisa. We recorded the interviews, which were overwhelmingly positive. Here is a selection of comments:

1. Daniel zizele – There was a very bad smell before the December, it was even difficult to eat food at times, I’m not experiencing any smell at the moment, I would be very happy if you can continue treating that place.

2. Nomaphelo Nokulila – Ever since I came here the smell from the place across has always been a problem, I left on the 16 of December for Christmas holidays, though I never notice anything before I left but since I came back I don’t fill any smell like before, I am very happy.

3. Thembelani Peter – I’m not sure why you guys have not been treating this place before, maybe it’s because it’s about the elections again, but anyway thanks. There was a bad smell here be December, but now there is a huge difference, no smell at all, please continue to treat that place.

4. Mrs. Lusanda Twetwa – Since we came back from Cape Town on the 20th of December I have not had the smell up to now, but before we le on the 28 0f November I can confirm it was really bad here.

5. Ms. Mandisa Dyani – I have recently relocated my Kids to Ezilalini, last year it was really painful to see my daughter coughing and complaining about the sewerage smell, I wish she was here to now so she can feel the deference.


We believe that we have successfully demonstrated a viable solution to some of the sanitation challenges that face our communities on a daily basis. We are able to offer a better life for all at a competitive price, a marked improvement in living conditions – a solution that restores dignity to the community

Please note that we have also noted the overloading and a high volume of soil\ sand, and it is our recommendation that an arrangement be made to desludge anaerobic ponds one and the two.

Further to our recommendations and proposal, it is our wish to include a minor maintenance plan that will include grass cutting around all the ponds and the entire plant yard of the Central Waste Water Treatment Works.

We thank you for the time taken in the consideration of this document, and in particular, those associated with the successful implementation of the pilot project at the Central Waste Water Treatment Works.