The Dangers of Lead Contaminated Soil
By Ross Hartman, Corporate Service Director
Some products that contain lead exhibit hazardous characteristics that can be harmful to your health. Typically industrial manufacturing activities with poor house-keeping practices will lead to releases to the subsurface. Some products that contain high levels of leachable lead are:
• Waste Oils
• Fly Ash
• Foundry Sands
• Metal Slag
What can happen if you do not decontaminate soil that contains lead?
Both organic and inorganic contaminates can come from sources including agricultural runoffs and industrial waste materials. Soil pollution can result in water pollution if lead spreads to groundwater, or if soil runoff reaches a water source. Lead in the soil can also be a hazard for children who may be exposed to impacted areas. Furthermore, people who walk impacted areas track the contaminated substance into their homes with little to no awareness of the impact. Great care must be taken when handling or treating lead soil to prevent further cross contamination from the work place to the home.
According to the EPA, you can get lead in your body by breathing or swallowing lead dust or soil. Lead is extremely harmful to children and adults, and can lead to nerve disorders, memory problems, high blood pressure, and muscle pain among other consequences.
What happens if I need my soil decontaminated?
Soil remediation is conventionally performed by excavating the impacted soil and disposing of the material at a landfill. More and more we see the necessity to treat soil on-site through soil stabilization. Essentially, the lead in the soil needs to be stabilized by effectively changing the pH and eH levels. Treatment of lead contaminated soil effectively reduces the leachability. This allows property owners to benefit lower disposal costs or potentially reuse the material on-site.
Contact the National Lead Information center (http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/nlic.htm) for more information on lead hazards and prevention.