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Perchlorate Safety

Posted by Rebecca McDaniel

By John Bailey,  Environmental Compliance Advisor

Perchlorates are the salts derived from perchloric acid. They are used as oxidizers for fireworks, airbags and in solid rocket fuel. The solid rocket boosters of the space shuttle contain 350 metric tons of ammonium perchlorate each.

Perchlorate compounds are derived from perchloric acid (HClO4), a strong mineral acid that is an explosion hazard. When perchloric acid vapors combine with organic or metallic ions they form perchlorate compounds. Common organic and metallic perchlorates include ammonium perchlorate (NH4ClO4), potassium perchlorate (KClO4) and sodium perchlorate (NaClO4). Dry crystals of perchlorate pose an explosion hazard if disturbed. Perchlorates are strong oxidizers that are widely used because they are generally stable, however if heated or shocked they may ignite or detonate.

Perchlorate residues can be encountered within fume hoods and exhaust ductwork of laboratories in which perchlorate or perchloric acid is used. Perchlorate residues can be identified in the field using methylene blue solution, which forms a violet precipitate after reacting with the perchlorate ion. In addition to field testing, perchlorate residues can be detected by laboratory analysis of wipe samples. Best management practices for laboratory cleaning include drenching with water following use to remove potential residues, and the disposal of solutions by dilution in copious amounts of water.

Perchlorates have also been identified as a contaminant in soil and groundwater in Massachusetts, and as an Emerging Contaminant by the US EPA. Perchlorates are also naturally occurring compounds that have been detected at low concentrations in arid areas and on Mars. Perchlorates are extremely soluble in water, making them relatively easy to remove in laboratory conditions; however the solubility makes cleanup of perchlorates in the environment difficult because they do not readily degrade.


MA DEP Perchlorate Q&A:


Look for future engineering blogs about Industrial Hygiene topics including mercury, lead and heavy metals. Please contact Triumvirate’s engineering group for more information. We have Environmental Engineers ready to answer your questions.

Tags: US EPA, disposal, waste disposal, industrial hygiene, perchlorate safety, perchlorate, perchloric acid, best management practices, lab cleaning, emerging contaminant, engineering blogs, EPA, Triumvirate, MA DEP, engineering, Environmental Engineers, oxidizers, fume hoods

The Mass. Contingency Plan and Soil Contamination

Posted by Rebecca McDaniel

By John Bailey, Environmental Compliance Advisor, Triumvirate Somerville

Preliminary Response Actions-Part I

The Massachusetts Contingency Plan (310 CMR 40.0000) “the MCP” allows three main types of preliminary response actions at disposal sites. These are Limited Removal Actions, Immediate Response Actions and Release Abatement Measures. The regulations related to Limited Removal Actions are described below.

Limited Removal Actions (“LRA”) are described in section 40.0318 of the MCP. LRA’s are restricted to the removal of contaminated soil. While performing a LRA contaminated soil can be removed from a site under certain conditions without notification or reporting to the MA DEP, or direct oversight by the MA DEP.

LRAs can be conducted for soil that would be a “120 Day Notification” release if the volume of contaminated soil is less than 100 cubic yards for oil or waste oil contamination, or 20 cubic yards for contamination by other hazardous materials.

LRAs cannot be conducted for releases requiring “2 Hour” or “72 Hour” notification, or after the MA DEP has been notified of a release.

All excavation activities related to the LRA must be conducted within 120 days of obtaining knowledge of the release, and all contaminated soil generated must be managed in accordance with the remediation waste management procedures detailed in section 40.0030 of the MCP. Management of remediation waste typically requires transportation using a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest, or a MA DEP Bill of Lading form signed by a Licensed Site Professional, and recycling or disposal at a permitted facility.

Look for future engineering blogs about MCP Preliminary Response Actions, Immediate Response Actions, Release Abatement Measures, and other topics. Please contact Triumvirate’s Engineering group for more information, we have Licensed Site Professionals and Environmental Engineers ready to answer your questions.

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The Dangers of Lead Contaminated Soil

Posted by Rebecca McDaniel

By Ross Hartman, Corporate Service Director

Lead Prevention

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
• Paints
• 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 ( for more information on lead hazards and prevention.


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