Asbestos gets into the soil when waste material from asbestos removal work is dumped recklessly, or during mining. Soils on potentially contaminated sites are usually inspected to determine the possibility and extent of contamination. The EA 200 is the standard method used to identify the presence or asbestos in the soil, a code approved by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA).
The National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure as at 2013, states that a site that after inspection and assessment is found to have bonded asbestos on the surface cannot be classified as contaminated. The solution is easy-it is removed and made sure that the top soil is clear of any visible asbestos. Bonded asbestos is the largest contaminant of soil in Australia. There are also free fibers, which cannot be visible to the naked eye.
It is generally assumed that soil contains asbestos before testing. These are the general steps taken :
1. Inspection : Where the soil is to be distributed, supplied or sold, a professional should inspect the site and submit a report to the receiver of the soil, affirming the absence or presence of asbestos and asbestos and Asbestos Containing Material (ACM).
2. Collection Of Samples : It is done carefully not to agitate the soil, a process that could release fibrous asbestos into the air. Fibrous asbestos is that which can be crumpled by the hand.
3. Transport To The Lab : As recommended by WorkSafe Victoria, soil must be damp before it is transported to minimize the chances of dirt and fiber floating in the air. Transporters must also have a transport permit from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
4. Testing In The Lab : The test for friability is done by crumbling the sample in the hand. If it is crushed easily, it is classified as friable asbestos. It can also pass through a seven millimeter thick sieve Otherwise, it is bonded. The samples presented must be in the following denominations at least 10 litres in a bucket for bulk soil samples and for those in 'grab bags', at least 0-50 grams in soil jars.
5. Determination Of Concentration In The Soil : The weight of asbestos per unit area is determined by picking a number of samples of soil form different marked zones in the field, such samples take to be a proper representation of the whole area. The asbestos is weighed, and the weight difference from the soil used to calculate a percentage that is taken as that of asbestos concentration in the whole area.
6. Disposal : Waste code N220 regulates the disposal of soil contaminated by asbestos. It should be done in licensed sites. The Environmental Protection Authority lists the certified sites for referral by interested parties.
7. Inspection : It should be done under due supervision of a class A license holder for any visible asbestos or asbestos containing material.
Soil is a particularly dangerous site. It could be on a site where people tread and crisscross often. Disturbing soil like this that may contain free asbestos could clearly be an unidentified hazard to hundreds of people.