Read our frequently asked questions about contaminated waste. We’ll answer your burning questions; what is contaminated soil? What are its causes and risks? As well as explain how you can treat it.

What is contaminated soil?

Soil that has been in contact with or contains substances that are potentially hazardous to health or the environment. It is not just soil that can be contaminated by hazardous substances, concrete, block paving, etc can also be contaminated.

What causes contamination?

Contamination can occur in many ways such as accidental spills, industrial activities, agricultural chemicals or improper disposal of waste.

What substances cause contamination?

The most common substances are petroleum, solvents, pesticides, lead and other heavy metals.

Why is contaminated soil hazardous?

Contaminated soil can be hazardous to humans and animals. Hazardous substances may be transferred from the soil into humans and animals through the skin or ingested accidentally. It may also be that contaminants enter the food chain as they are picked up by plants growing on the contaminated soil.

What are the risks to health if you encounter contaminated soil?

The risks depend on the contamination type, environment and how it has come into contact with a human. Methods of contact can include drinking contaminated water, skin contact, breathing in dust or a hazardous gas or eating food grown in the soil.

Effects from having contact with soil which is contaminated can be minor with side effects such as:

  • skin irritation
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • and even, respiratory problems

However, if contact has been made with a more hazardous substance, such as Cadmium. Then major side effects such as renal disfunction and bone damage can occur.

How do you know if your land is contaminated?

It can sometimes be difficult to know if soil or land is contaminated. There can be visible indicators such as discoloration in the soil, strong odours etc.

It might also be possible to determine contamination if you are aware of the history of the land. For example, if you have knowledge that the land has been used for the polluting industry, mining or waste disposal. If this is the case then chances are, contamination is possible.

However, if there are no obvious signs and no knowledge of the site’s history. Then, there is no way of knowing unless a sample test is undertaken. The government has a contamination fact sheet PDF which you can view, here.

How can I get soil tested?

Contact Site Solutions where we will arrange an end to end service. We organise the haulage and treatment. And we’ll make sure that you get the correct paperwork so you can rest easy knowing that the job has been done right and you can prove it. If you need testing done, we can arrange analysis of the soil. We can even advise whether the results indicate if it is hazardous or non-hazardous.

How is the soil treated?

Treatments include chemical oxidation, soil stabilisation or a more physical method such as washing the soil depending on the type of contamination.

Site Solutions will source the most economic disposal method, be that treatment, landfill or a combination of the two. Where it makes most sense to do so, our national network of treatment sites ensure that your contaminated dirt or soil is recycled for reuse rather than just taking up valuable landfill space. Treatment for reuse can often be more economic than landfilling.

For more information on how Site Solutions can help with your contaminated soil requirements, or specialist waste, contact us on 01684 353556.