UN Enviroment Programme

Chapter 9. Status of soil pollution in Latin America and the Caribbean


The main sources of soil contamination in Latin America and the Caribbean are agriculture and mining activities. The information available for the region on soil contamination is scattered and focused on few contaminants, making it difficult to make good decisions. In addition, the information is rarely accessible to the public, which generates circumstances of misinformation and mishandling of data or concepts in social networks and communication channels. Therefore, it is recommended to establish and strengthen information and awareness mechanisms for the region, which has a population that is very aware of environmental problems.

It is imperative that in the medium term, regulatory policies on soil contamination and national monitoring programs are developed to make informed decisions. Regulatory frameworks must be supported by threshold values for soil contaminants that trigger mandatory remediation and soil quality standards to measure progress in combating soil contamination. It is also important to conduct regular health risk assessments and epidemiological studies as part of research and governmental efforts to tackle soil pollution.

Building and strengthening technical capacities and ensuring access to technology for qualified personnel are essential pillars for establishing soil pollution monitoring and control measures. The establishment of incentives for medium and long-term investment in the remediation of polluted soils and in the greening of industries are also measures to be taken into account by the countries of the region to ensure that soil pollution problems are mitigated.