Factors That Affect the Risk Level of Asbestos in Soil

Are you planning to develop a piece of land, but asbestos has been found in the soil? Read on and discover some of the factors that may influence the extent of the health risks presented by that contaminated soil.

The Type of Soil

The type of soil at the site may increase or lower the magnitude of the health risks that can result from the existence of asbestos contamination in soil. For example, clay soil may lower the risks resulting from asbestos contamination. This is because clay soil compacts and contains the contamination within a small area. This is in contrast to loose, sandy soils that can easily move and spread the contamination over a larger area. Loose soil therefore poses greater risks when soil is contaminated with asbestos.

Moisture Content

Wet soils may pose fewer health risks since water can prevent asbestos fibres from becoming airborne. Dry soils easily give off dust that may be contaminated with asbestos fibres. This can expose humans to the risk of inhaling those fibres. Sites with a high moisture content may therefore be less risky than sites that are dry.

Depth of Contamination

Soil is usually contaminated by asbestos-containing materials, such as asbestos sheets, which were dumped in that soil. The depth at which these materials were disposed plays a role in the magnitude of the risks faced by people at the site. Asbestos materials that are closer to the surface of the soil pose the greatest level of risk because it is easier for asbestos fibres to contaminate the air in that area.

The Condition of the Asbestos

Asbestos that is intact presents fewer health risks than asbestos-containing materials (ACM) that have degraded and become friable. The intact ACM will contaminate a smaller section of the soil in comparison to ACM that has degraded. However, the area of contamination will also be affected by other factors, such as those discussed earlier.

As you can see, so many factors affect the assessment of the risk level presented by asbestos soil that it would be hard for a layperson to make a correct risk assessment. It is therefore better to hire experts so that they can analyse your site and advise you on what level of risk exists. You can then base upon that professional assessment to select the most appropriate asbestos soil removal technique. The removal of contaminated soil will give you peace of mind because people will not face any asbestos risks at the property that you develop.