Written by: Tadd Berger, Practice Lead in the Environmental Due Diligence & Remediation Group at Pinchin Ltd.
Soil is literally all around us. It gets under our fingernails and stains our clothes after a rewarding gardening session. We feel it stinging our eyes and skin during 30km/h windstorms. We admire it dancing in a narrow beam of sunlight, and use it to build foundations, roadbeds, dams, and complex structures. Soil surrounds us within our built environments as well. Just as we use it for construction, so too do we understand that soil, like any building material, can make us unhealthy if not used and monitored properly.
Dirt is so ingrained in our physical lives that exposure models suggest the average adult human actually consumes over one pound of dirt throughout their lives. In that pound of dirt live common hazards including gasoline, fire retardant, pesticides, PCB’s, heavy metals and other contaminants. We are what we eat indeed.
That pound of soil we end up eating – perhaps from unclean hands, spoiled food, or dust particles in the air – is just one way we are exposed to the hazards that thrive within this humble substance. On a day-to-day basis, just from the simple act of existing, we get dirt on our skin, in our hair, up our noses and in our ears. Many environmental contaminants can hitch a ride on the soil and, once in contact with your body, can pass right through your skin and into you. Add to this the obvious fact that we breathe in a lot of dust in our everyday lives and it really begins to matter just how clean these particles surrounding us are.
Before we give you mysophobia (fear of being contaminated with dirt or germ), it is important for us to note here that there are ways to determine if the soil around you is clean or dirty, and there are established regulations in place to keep our soils clean. In British Columbia, the Environmental Management Act and its Contaminated Sites Regulations set out clear guidelines for acceptable concentration in soils based on exposure modeling. There are also a growing number of new technologies available that can clean up contaminated soils, such as thermal remediation, chemical oxidation, biological enhancements and vapour extraction systems. It is with tools like these that we can be confident in the quality of the soils around us.
If you are worried that the dust in your building is going to make you ill, all it takes is a trusted partnership with a qualified environmental consultant to conduct an assessment and clean up your site. Pinchin offers a diverse set of service lines led by qualified exerts in Environmental Due Diligence and Remediation (EDR), Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ), and Emissions Reduction and Compliance (ERC) to serve your specific needs. With Pinchin’s dedicated professionals in your corner, you can be proud to have the cleanest dirt in your neighbourhood, and take comfort in knowing that you can breathe easier as a result.
Call 1.855.PINCHIN today, or visit us at Pinchin.com to book a consultation.