A List Of Harmful Contaminants Found In Soil And How To Remove Them

Nobody likes to discover anything dangerous to their health in their home. Nonetheless, people may come upon toxic drugs on their estate, and they need to know what to do to protect themselves and their families.

Soil is a complex mix of minerals, organic matter, water, and a variety of living organisms. It was originally an uncontaminated substance that covered the earth. However, in certain regions, humans have unintentionally and purposely spilled toxic items onto the soil. The waste has the potential to harm the land, as well as human, plant, and animal health. Urban regions and previous industrial sites pose the greatest danger of soil pollution. If you have doubts about safety, you should take a soil test. Of course, most soil is safe for play, gardening, and recreational activities, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

High-Risk Places

Landfills, junkyards, and garbage disposal facilities, like industrial sites, represent a high risk of soil contamination. If you live at a place where once an industrial site was, the likelihood of some toxic waste being there is not negligible. Thus, calling professionals who deal with contaminated soil disposal is probably the best thing to do if you find anything strange.  Many other forms of contaminants, such as lead, arsenic, and petroleum products, can be found in these locations. All of them pose a threat to human safety on their own. They may react with each other to produce even more dangerous chemicals.  Containment and remediation of these places are expensive, technically, and logistically difficult.


Petroleum products include gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuels, and oils, which are refined from crude oil. Petroleum hydrocarbons are the building blocks of all of these goods, including crude oil. Depending on the amount of carbon in their molecular structure, they have a wide range of features. When present in the soil, several of them can create issues. When petroleum products are present in drinking water, they pose the biggest threat to human health. Because many petroleum hydrocarbons are very mobile, they can easily be carried to water resources if they are present in the soil. Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene are examples of petroleum hydrocarbons that might cause cancer. In drinking water, there are regulatory guidelines for safe amounts.

The contamination can often be smelled or seen (particularly with oils) at high concentrations of petroleum hydrocarbons. If the concentrations are high enough to see or smell, the soil and plant health would most certainly suffer. Contamination at lesser amounts can still produce soil discoloration compared to nearby areas, as well as poor vegetative growth. Microorganisms already present in the soil might eat them in low quantities. As a result, they are broken down into less dangerous compounds. In small-scale contaminations, leaving things alone may be the best course of action. Large-scale contaminations, such as landfarming, biopiling, or natural disintegration, can also benefit from these approaches. Chemical supplements can also be used to speed up the decomposition of petroleum hydrocarbon-contaminated soils. Another area of investigation is heating polluted soil until the petroleum hydrocarbons burn.


Lead is the most prevalent sort of pollutant found in urban soil. The usage of leaded gasoline and lead paint in the past has resulted in elevated lead levels in urban soil. If you live near a very busy, high-traffic road that has been in use for more than 40 years, your soil is very likely to be polluted with lead. When leaded gasoline was still in use, lead from car exhaust poisoned the land. If you live in an older (50+ years) painted home, your soil is also more likely to be poisoned. Your home’s lead paint may have peeled off and landed in the dirt right next to it.

Safe Side

You can collect a soil sample and send it to a laboratory to be tested if you’re concerned about high lead levels in your soil. You’ll need to tell what you want to test the soil for. If you’re concerned about lead levels in your soil, the first test you should order is a total soil lead concentration test. When you have your soil tested for total metal concentrations, this information is included. The easiest approach to avoid lead exposure is to wash your vegetables before eating them. Another simple and efficient strategy to limit the risk of lead exposure is to wash your hands and your children’s hands before meals.

Lead clings to the surface it lands on. Plant your vegetable garden away from your home drip line if you have an older home with a high risk of lead paint. It’s almost guaranteed that the lead pollution will be highly localized—right under your house. When you get away from the drip line, you’re getting away from the high-lead zone. Planting your garden a few feet away from the curb is the easiest thing to do if you live near a busy street. The lower the soil lead concentration is, the further away you are from the roadway. Composts should be added to your soil. The majority of cities compost their yard waste. Many companies also make compost from wastewater treatment biosolids. These composts are regulated and can provide your soils with both fertility and enhanced tilth. Some of these composts will bind lead directly, making it less accessible.

Creosote and Arsenic

Commercial wood preservatives contain creosote. It can help wood goods like railroad ties and utility poles last longer. Creosote is manufactured by distilling coal tar and is made up of a variety of compounds. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons make up about 80% of the compounds found in creosote. Some of these hydrocarbons could be dangerous to humans. The Environmental Protection Agency has not approved creosote for use in home wood treatment. Arsenic is an element that occurs naturally in rocks, soil, water, and food. Arsenic can be organic and inorganic. When arsenic is coupled with a carbon component, organic arsenic is created, whereas inorganic arsenic has no carbon. Inorganic arsenic is the more poisonous of the two types and is a proven carcinogen. Chromated copper arsenate was most likely used in outdoor constructions developed before 2004. At this moment, there is no soil test available to determine the number of hydrocarbons. If you suspect creosote contamination in soil or water, you should seek advice from your state’s health authorities.

These instructions should hopefully help you react appropriately if you see a strange substance or material on your soil. If you are unsure, the best course of action is to contact authorized individuals to investigate your concern.