Asbestos Control and Removal: Soil Remediation is Equally as Important

Eugene Vargas

When most people think about asbestos contamination, the areas that come to mind are buildings and their infrastructure. However, structures are not the only areas where asbestos can be found. Asbestos can occur in the soil and it poses the same health and environmental hazards as does asbestos that's found in building materials and infrastructure. Inspecting the soil around a building that's suspected to have asbestos fibers can help you to take the necessary remediation steps to protect the building occupants and the environment from the effects of asbestos.

How does asbestos occur in the soil?

Asbestos does not just occur in the soil. Some types of recent or past activities may be responsible for contaminating the soil with this hazardous material. These activities include the following:

  • Constructing a structure using materials that contain asbestos can expose the fibers into the environment and have them infused on the soil.
  • Demolishing a structure before undertaking asbestos inspection or taking necessary precautions to remove asbestos.
  • Disturbing the soil that's contaminated with asbestos during a construction project.

If you have any suspicions that the soil on your site or around your building is contaminated with asbestos, it is important to have it inspected and tested so that the necessary remediation steps can be undertaken.

Which soil should be tested?

There are various factors that can lead you to believe that the soil on your construction site may be contaminated with asbestos fibers. Such factors include the following:

  • If an old structure that was built before the 90s and is suspected to have had asbestos was demolished on the site.
  • If structural renovations were undertaken on a building whose materials contained asbestos.
  • If asbestos was recently removed in a building as it is possible for the fibers to find their way into the soil if precautions weren't put in place.

It is also important to have the soil on a construction site tested for asbestos before the commencement of any project. Soil grading, digging, trenching, and other activities that cause soil disturbance should not be undertaken before the inspection of the soil.

How can the soil be remedied?

Once the soil has been tested and found to have asbestos fibers, steps should be taken to remove the asbestos or prevent its exposure to the environment. if the asbestos covers a large area, the contaminated soil will be buried deep into the ground and covered. If the contamination is minimal, the asbestos fibers can be picked or buried on-site. The method of remediation used will depend on the extent of contamination.

Asbestos inspection, testing, and soil remediation should be carried out by asbestos removal specialists. DIY asbestos removal is not recommended as it can lead to further exposure to the fibers which are harmful to your health.