Author(s): S Dudka, W P Miller
Establishing permissible concentrations for As and Pb in soils is of practical importance because of toxicity of these metals, their widespread contamination, and limited resources available for remediation of contaminated soils. The USEPA pathway approach to risk assessment was used to assess an environmental hazard related to As and Pb in soils and to evaluate safe concentrations of these metals in contaminated soil. The results from large-scale field experiments with soil fly ash-biosolids blends were used as input data to analyze pathways of the most intense transfer of the contaminants to a target organism. A direct soil ingestion by children (the soil-human pathway) was considered the most important exposure route to soil As and Pb. A conservative risk analysis shows that As concentrations in soil can reach 40 μg g-1 without a hazard to exposed organisms. A Pb concentration in soil up to 300 μg g-1 does not cause an excessive intake of Pb by humans as evaluated by a direct soil ingestion exposure model.