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Soil and human health | PICO
Convener: Lily Pereg (deceased) | Co-Conveners: Johan Six , Eric C. Brevik 
PICOs
 / Mon, 24 Apr, 08:30–10:00  / PICO spot 5a
Soil influences physical, mental and social wellbeing, the three main aspects of human health. We call for papers on all aspects of soil and human health.

Healthy, bio-diverse, fertile soil that is rich in nutrients and elements required for proper human nutrition can lead to personal physical fitness as well as social wellbeing for both the individual and broader society. Poor, unfertile or inhabitable soil might lead to famine, poor nutrition and also to war over agricultural resources. Mental fitness is achieved through emotional and psychological wellbeing but is also partially dependent on proper nutrition, and social fitness is achieved through the ability to operate comfortably within the expectations of an individual’s society. These components of health are closely linked with food security, which is directly linked to the soil resource, as recognized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Soil quality and productivity, and thus human health, are influenced by agricultural and natural resource management, which in turn influence air and water quality. Finally, we all love interactions with nature and soils and research has shown this to be a contributor to good mental health.

Nutrient imbalances in the soil can lead to poor crop yields and reduced food quality (both plants and animals) and affect human health through deficiencies in essential elements (e.g. iron, iodine, selenium). Soil can be a source of harmful substances such as heavy metals, organic pollutants, microbial human pathogens and plant and animal pathogens that can reduce yield and food and cash crop quality. Soil biodiversity and high carbon content can help control populations of pathogens and human parasites, reducing disease outbreaks. Soils have provided many of our current bioremediation, biological control and plant growth promoting agents.

In conclusion, other than determining food quality, soil health determines the quality of land and water resources as well as mental, social and environmental wellbeing. It supplies resources for fibres for clothing, fuel and housing, clean water, pure air, biodiversity and environmental quality, and all these things affect human health, welfare and economical viability. This session will be devoted to discussions of every aspect linking soil with human health.