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First new asbestos in soil guidance published in almost a quarter of a century

Publication of Ciria’s new asbestos in soil guidance is a significant step forward for the contaminated land sector as it is the first new guidance to be issue since 1990.

“The publication has been a long time coming,” said Aecom’s Claire Dickinson who led the report. “The ICRCL document from 1990 was only 14 pages long and was never viewed as comprehensive when it was produced. New legislation has come into force in the last 24 years but the guidance resulting from this has mainly applied to buildings and not addressed the issue of fibres in soil as a result of demolition.”

According to Ciria’s Joanne Kwan, the impact of asbestos in the ground is not well known. “The regulations are indirect and, until now, there has been little guidance available since 1990 apart from an interim document produced by the Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists last year,” she said.

 “The new report aims to help planning of a ground investigation where there is a possibility of asbestos in the soil, improve understanding of the options if asbestos is found and aid specification of testing. The second part of the report covers the management issues such as risk assessment, sampling and analysis, exposure assessment and evaluation under specific legal regimes.”

Kwan added that there are still many unknowns when it comes to asbestos in soil but the report provides a good update on current best practice and further seminars are planned to look at the wider issues in the near future.

Key contributor to the report LQM’s Paul Nathanail added that one the biggest unknown areas is the soil to air relationship that govern fibre release from soils. “Asbestos is only a problem when it is airborne so it is difficult to understand the health risk when it is in the ground. The best research we have for understanding the relationship was undertaken by Addison et al in 1988.” Nathanail called for the industry to carry out further research in this area.

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