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Mar 14, 2017

Heavy Metal and Hard Rock: Are They Causing Headaches?

Steve Dwyer

In a preview of the next online issue of Renewal & Redevelopment, Peter Hayes, business development executive from waste management specialist CDEnviro, will explain more about the emerging solutions to these problem materials.

Polluted soil is a particular problem when trying to bring brownfields back into use. Contaminated soil can be the result of spillages, mismanaged industrial sites, or unforeseen consequences of using materials previously thought to be harmless,” says Hayes, adding that it’s “not straightforward or cheap to redevelop brownfields, so the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program provides grants and technical assistance to communities, states, tribes and others to assess, safely clean up and sustainably reuse these contaminated properties.”

Long-term industrialization and a lack of understanding of the environmental consequences of the processes, products and chemicals we use have caused soil contamination to be a widespread issue, with heavy metals one of the most frequent pollutants.

“Although there are solutions on the market, the options for simultaneously dealing two of the most common areas of concern—hard rock and heavy metals—are extremely limited. Unsurprisingly, it is costly and time consuming to deal with them separately,” says Hayes.  

The level and type of contamination is unique in each location, and depends on what has happened on the land before remediation was required. Heavy metals are naturally present in soil, but if there’s more than trace amounts it is harmful.

The health effects aren’t as well studied as air and water pollution, but evidence of the dangers of contaminated soil is growing. “Human health can be affected either through direct contact or by ingestion through the food chain. The risk of inhaling poisonous substances such as anthrax spores, small pox and noxious gases must also be considered,” he says.

The rest of Hayes column will be available in the April online issue of Renewal & Redevelopment, which will post the first couple days of the month.



A Mill(ion) Dollar Opportunity

The Bates of Maine Woolen Mill, a former industrial anchor in the city of Lewiston (pop.36, 500) in western Maine, has been transformed into a modern and bustling economic hub following years of city, state, federal, non-profit, private involvement and funding

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