By some estimates, there are more than 49 million acres of contaminated soil—i.e., soil containing unsafe levels of heavy metals, manmade chemicals, and other pollutants—across the world. Toxic heavy metals in the soil can have devastating, far-reaching consequences on both human and environmental health, as detailed by the EPA. In the United States alone, there are at least 100,000 of these contaminated sites. So the benefits of chemical soil stabilization and other soil remediation methods are far-reaching.
How Does Soil Become Contaminated?
While there are countless ways that manmade chemicals can contaminate a natural soil environment, most soil contamination can be traced back to three root causes:
- Industrial and manufacturing activity
- Chemical agricultural activity
- Improper waste disposal
What Are the Most Common Contaminants in Soil?
According to the EPA, the eight most common environmental contaminants found in contaminated soil are the following:
- Lead (from past use in paints, inks, piping, batteries, mining, ammunition, and more)
- Petroleum (from past use in drilling, refineries, plastic production, and more)
- Asbestos (from old piping, insulation, fireproofing, and more)
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs (a manufacturing byproduct caused by coal tar, soot, fire, and more)
- Other metals (from metal manufacturing and fabrication)
- Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs (manmade chemicals most frequently found in commercial cleaning solvents, paint strippers, degreasers, and dry cleaning)
- Polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs (manmade chemicals found in transfer fluids, lubricants, certain kinds of paint or caulk, and more)
- Arsenic (frequently found in pesticides and wood preservatives)
However manmade chemicals make their way into the soil, once the soil has been contaminated, the results can be catastrophic and far-reaching. Thankfully, there’s a solution: soil remediation.
Soil remediation refers to any process by which potentially harmful contaminants in soil are cleaned, neutralized, or removed. The goal of soil remediation is to maintain healthy soil, air, and water quality that is safe for the environment and safe for people in that environment.
Soil remediation doesn’t refer to one single process: rather, it’s a catch-all term that encompasses a number of different processes by which a team might attempt to remove harmful substances, chemicals, or pollutants from the soil.
One soil remediation process is known as chemical soil stabilization.
Benefits of Chemical Soil Stabilization
Unlike many other soil remediation processes, chemical soil stabilization does not remove or destroy the heavy metal contaminants it is targeting in the soil. Instead, it involves introducing chemical amendments to the soil that immobilize the heavy metals or contaminants within. This process can significantly reduce the mobility of heavy metals in soil, the bioavailability of heavy metals in soil, and the toxicity of heavy metals in soil.
While in many cases, first-line methods like bioremediation or encapsulation may be more effective and environmentally friendly, those methods tend to take more time and cost more money. So, on some sites or for some projects, chemical soil stabilization may be cheaper, faster, and more convenient.
Chemical soil stabilization is just one of many soil clean-up services that our team of environmental experts offers. We also utilize proven soil remediation technologies, including bioremediation, soil vapor extraction, soil encapsulation, and more. Our team will find the right soil-cleaning technology for you, based on the severity of the contamination, the most effective tools for the job, and the budget, time, and location constraints specific to your needs.
Do you need remediation support? Give Environmental Works a call. We have in-house experts ready to help. We will walk you through the specifics of your organization’s planning and compliance needs in terms of soil remediation. Our team can also work with you to develop an ongoing plan for your business to ensure ongoing environmental responsibility. When you’re ready, you can contact EWI online or call 877-827-9500 for more information.