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Soil Testing

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Soil Testing Articles

Below is a list of articles that have been published on this topic.
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Defining Soil Quality

The economic, social and environmental circumstances of the 1970s and 1980s have compelled the American Soil Society to critically look for a way to measure soil’s suitability for sustainable environmental management. Awareness about assessment of soil quality has been raised since 1946, first as the Soil and Health Foundation and later by the Rodale Institute.

Lead in the Environment

Lead is an environmental contaminant of concern both in the lithosphere and hydrosphere. It is a non-essential element that is poisonous to both humans and animals. Its health risk has been known for thousands of years, with lead poisoning documented in ancient civilisations.

Remediating Brownfield Sites

The Government has said that over the next five years it plans to directly commission the construction of thousands of new homes on public land. David Cameron described this announcement as the biggest shift in house building policy in the last 30 years. These plans will be backed up by an extra £1.2 billion to help remediate brownfield sites for tens of thousands of new homes across the country. This is an important step forward, with the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) estimating there is capacity for at least one million new homes on suitable brownfield land in England alone.

Leachability Testing

Few people ever pass a development site and think: ‘I wonder what type of leachability test was carried out here?’ But then, few people outside the construction and infrastructure industries have the slightest idea what leachability tests are.

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Soil Quality Insights

While the Netherlands now has strict laws in place to protect the environment, this hasn’t always been the case. The discovery of severe soil contamination in the 1980s in Lekkerkerk, Netherlands, has left a legacy of soil remediation.

Understanding Site Contamination

Contaminated sites and the extent to which contaminants have spread are usually difficult to comprehend and are therefore often underestimated. As a consequence, these incomplete insights may lead to inappropriate measures, cost overruns and remedial target levels that in practice turn out to be hard to achieve.

Hidden Depths

Our industrial legacy has caused many problems. Sites that are now being redeveloped for industry and housing hold many hidden dangers, and it is vital that a site investigation is completed (and possible remediation performed) before it can be reused. An environmental consultant should carry out a desk study to determine the probable extent of any contamination before conducting an intrusive investigation.

Environmental Forensics

Oil spills and contaminations that have resulted in disastrous economic and environmental damage that may last for decades have made the news headlines across the world in recent years. The lawsuits surrounding them have proved just as newsworthy, with billions of pounds of compensation being paid out by those found to be responsible.

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Site Evaluation

We are routinely asked the following question: “Do you do soil testing and site evaluation?” Often this is the sole question posed in an e-mail or during an initial telephone enquiry in relation to a potentially contaminated site.

Making up Ground

James Dodgson explains how a collaborative approach is key to the effective management of the risks associated with asbestos in soil.

Soil Quality and Testing

Dirty Secrets of Soil

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Contamination and Containment

The Measure of Contamination

Bring Water to the Sea

Soil Quality Restoration

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Soil as a CO2 Sink

What Lies Beneath

Speciated Mercury

EHS News: The toxic effects of mercury and its compounds were proven many years ago, and major instances of mercury poisoning are well documented. Two of the most well known incidents are the Minamata Bay area

Maintaining Integrity in Sample Preparation

Environmental samples comprise a wide range of matrices, each presenting the laboratory with analytical challenges. Analytical techniques and guidance documents exist to direct the laboratory to use the most appropriate sample preparation technique, but it is also crucial that the end user of the analytical data generated is aware of the preparation techniques which may be employed, and those that may be inappropriate for the sample matrix or test.

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Automatic Weather Stations [Mar 2012]

Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) are becoming increasingly popular in many applications owing to their becoming more affordable, reliable, having improved data logging capabilities and through the growth in personal computing bringing sophisticated data manipulation and archiving within the reach of all.

Environmental Analysis Focusing on Metals [Mar 2012]

Testing for a suite of metals is one of the most common requests received by environmental laboratories, and is generally perceived as straightforward and simple to understand. This is actually a complex area, however, with some misconceptions relating to the analysis and how data should be interpreted.

Asbestos in Soil Current Issues

Asbestos is an emotive topic, with the phrase ‘one fibre can kill’ often repeated, particularly by the more sensationalist press. In reality, asbestos is present in the air we breathe in most urban areas, with 0.015 fibres/ml as the clearance limit for buildings, and 0.1 fibres/cm3 as the Control limit for workplace exposure - when multiplied by the volume of air within a room or building, this is actually a not insignificant level. However, it also depends on the type and size of fibre, the length of exposure, and the inherent susceptibility of the person as to whether an asbestos related respiratory disease may develop or not.

Soil Testing and Analysis

Dealing with contaminated land has long been one of the more challenging elements of brownfield land projects, with remediation requirements needing to be balanced against increasingly complex regulation and, in more recent years, set against a difficult financial outlook.

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Soil Sample Preparation

Soil is an incredibly diverse and complex matrix. The chemistry of soil varies from the relative simplicity of calcium carbonate in chalky soils and silica in sandy soils, to complex clay minerals, and multiple variations in between.

In addition, there is a huge range of potential contaminants, from household waste, builders’ rubble, industrial waste, paper, tar and concrete, through to highly toxic materials such as phenolics, explosives, cyanide and mercury.

Measuring Soil Content

Stable isotope analysis of light elements, namely those of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, sulphur and hydrogen, are increasingly used in research across a wide range of topics including soil science. Stable isotope analysis offers a unique tool to study biochemical processes occurring in soil ecosystems.

Soil Analysis

Some of the long term indicators and measurements required to give a complete picture of the soil in the UK.

Elemental Analysis In Soil

Analysis of the elements in soil is of growing importance, and combustion techniques represent an essential contribution.

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Land Remediation for Heavy Metal in Soil

Nikko, the UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Japan. One tourism site writes: “The view (from nearby Mt Nantai) is breathtaking, as if you are in paradise1.” Unbeknown to most tourists, just over the mountain ridge to the south of Lake Chuzenji is another view - the 3000-hectare moonscape that was once the Ashio copper mine2, and downstream in the Watarase River Basin, 100,000 hectares of once-polluted farmland3.

Soil Moisture Sensors and Applications

Conserving irrigation water, assessing water catchments and controlling diffuse environmental pollution at source A considerable amount of water enters the soil through rainfall or irrigation and is removed by drainage, surface evaporation and plant root uptake. The balance of these flows determines the soil moisture status, which varies dynamically over time and down the soil profile. It is critical to all aspects of life, from food production to ecosystem diversity and from the playability of grass sports surfaces, to the spread of environmental pollutants. Increasingly, continuous monitoring of soil moisture is required for conserving irrigation water, assessing water catchments and controlling diffuse environmental pollution at source.

Enviromental Land Remediation

The industrial legacy of the United Kingdom and some current industrial activity has left large areas of land contaminated in the UK and the contamination which has been introduced into the soil poses a risk to the wider environment, human health and natural resources such as groundwater. A very large proportion of our drinking water is pumped form aquifers beneath our feet and this water can be rendered unfit for consumption by trace quantities of some contaminants, some of these contaminants, such a chlorinated hydrocarbons can originate from apparently innocuous places as dry cleaning businesses. Other facilities such as petrol filling stations can leak contaminants into the ground for many years unnoticed.

Soil Analysis - Determination of different carbon species in soil by high temperature combustion

For waste management as well as for geological and environmental research the knowledge of the carbon content alone might be insufficient. Very often a more detailed information about the different species of carbon is required. The most important species are inorganic carbon (TIC), organic carbon (TOC) and sometimes black or elemental carbon (EC). Whereas TIC and TOC are widely known and covered by different international standards [1,], the black carbon is still a parameter under investigation. Several techniques are in use to measure the EC separately from TIC and TOC [2]. High temperature treatment of the sample can help to distinguish between these parameters.

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Methods of Soil Analysis - A summary of some of the many methods of soil analysis

Soils are an extremely complex matrix to analyse, particularly on contaminated sites - the actual soil matrix can vary from a sand (silica) to limestone (calcium carbonate) to clay (complexed minerals), or a mixture of many. In addition to this, the range of contaminants varies from fairly innocuous construction materials to toxic gasworks waste to highly toxic pharmaceutical waste/ mercury/explosives, etc.

Contaminated Soils

Expanding the potential of biomass crop production: reusing brownfield sites and biodegradable wastes.

Heavy Metal Pollution of Soil

Soil and its uses have been neglected or have been taken for granted for centuries. The human race has been disposing of waste via the soil for as long as we have been on the earth.

Soil Sampling of Contaminated Land

Sample selection, handling, transportation and storage. Site investigation and risk assessment have evolved into a major industry over the last two decades, with little legislation or guidance in the earlier years. The errors associated with sampling are now better documented, and any environmental consultant or site contractor needs to be well aware of the large differences which can result from poor site investigation design, and incorrect procedures on site, particularly with respect to sample selection, handling, transportation and storage. The assessment of potential contamination within a site is of critical importance for the future use of the site, predicting the cost of possible remediation, and the re-sale value. One of the main drivers for site investigation is SPOSH - ‘the significant possibility of significant harm’ being caused by the presence of contamination on the site.

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Optimised Process - Laboratories

Over the last decade, the Environmental Laboratory Business has seen many changes, in no small part due to increasing amounts of environmental legislation and uncertain market conditions. There has been a degree of rationalisation in the market with some smaller laboratories struggling to meet more stringent accreditation requirements and either closing down or being swallowed up by the larger laboratory groups. With the expansion of the EU, the more innovative and customer focused laboratories are now servicing clients from around the globe. This fast changing business landscape has led to a new operational concept being developed, Optimised Process Laboratories.

Equilibrium sampling in soil, snow and aquatic ecosystem measurements

This application note describes the equilibrium sampling method to be used with the Vaisala CARBOCAP® Carbon Dioxide Probe GMP343 for measurements of CO2 concentrations and fluxes in soil, snow or aquatic ecosystems. Some practical hints are provided for the different environments to ensure successful and trouble free measurements. This application note has been prepared in cooperation with Lammi Biological station, Department of Ecological and Environmental Sciences and Department of Forest Ecology at University of Helsinki.

Contaminated Soils

Across Europe, the management of contaminated soils by landfilling is being replaced by recovery/reuse. This is due amongst other things to the Landfill Directive and its waste treatment and acceptance criteria (WAC; EU Council Decision 2003/33/EC), the limited number of hazardous landfills, and the taxing of landfilling. Site owners and their consultants now pay more attention to the reduction in waste soil volumes and the classification of waste soils to minimise the quantity of waste (some of which may be hazardous), but not always to good effect. Misclassification of waste is still ongoing and methodologies to deal with soil classification are misunderstood. However, soil re-use can be well managed in countries with practical legislation such as the Flanders VLAREBO Decree, which allows re-use as building material. More recent waste guidance documents such as those issued by the UK EA (2004a) allow logical characterisation of soils and assessment for re-use. Nevertheless, the management of land contamination and its contaminated soils, either in the ground, or excavated as a stockpile, are made more difficult by the debate arising from the ‘Van de Walle’ case ECJ (C-1/03).

Sampling Soil From our Fragile Earth

XRF spectrometry is making a significant contribution to help Antarctica - The remediation of contaminated soils in Antarctica is conducted under the auspices of the Antarctic Treaty Committee for Environmental Protection. Scientists representing many governments are participating in the program. This article outlines the impact of human activity on the continent and provides an insight into how X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry is being used on-site by analysts from the Australian Antarctic Division, Department of the Environment and Water Resources to direct and monitor the progress of the clean-up at an old research station in East Antarctica.

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The Precision of Methods for Soil Analysis

Soil analysis and its influences on risk assessment of contaminated land.

Legislative Driven Environmental Analysis

Continually developing analysis contributes to the provision of data

Costs and Benefits of Land Remediation

It is estimated that there are 100,000 sites in the UK that are contaminated, 0.2 % of the country's land. These need to be cleaned-up so they can either be re-used to meet the land shortage and conservation of green areas or simply to ameliorate the pollution.

Measuring CO2 from Our Breathing Soil

The increase of the global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is by many scientists regarded as the most severe environmental problem we are facing today because of its impact on the global warming and consequential effects such as possible sea level rise, retreat of glaciers, changes in intensities of tropical cyclones and severe local storm activity.

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Current Issues

Health and Safety International | Issue 67 Health and Safety Middle East | Issue 43 OSA Magazine | Issue 19 AWE International | Issue 47 AMH Magazine | Issue 11 EMH Magazine | Issue 10

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