If you're planning to excavate a job site and you're worried about potential toxins in the site, you need to take steps to protect yourself, your workers and the nearby area. There are multiple things you can do. To be on the safe side, take a look at these tips.
1. Study the Area
Ideally, you should get a report of potential toxins when you buy a property, but in some cases, the seller may not have all the information, or the disclosure may simply be incorrect. To be on the safe side, spend some time looking into the history of the land and the activity around it.
For instance, was the land used for farming or industrial purposes? Are there farms or factories upstream of the land? Questions like this can help you determine the potential risk of toxins being in the soil.
2. Start With Core Drilling
If you suspect there are toxins or if you simply want to be as careful as possible, start your excavation project with core drilling. With this approach, you can minimise the disruption of the soil and any toxins, and you can take a look at what's in the soil. Core drilling is often used to place piping, but it can work perfectly for sampling as well.
3. Send the Soil in for Sampling
In some cases, you can see evidence of toxins in the soil. For instance, if a landfill was on the site, you may see old electronics or home insulation that suggests the presence of toxic heavy metals or asbestos, respectively. Those visual clues let you know that you need to tread forward with toxins in mind. In other cases, you may just see "dirt". In that case, make sure you line up a lab to do soil testing for you. These professionals can take your core sample, look at it, and analyse the chemical makeup.
4. Work While Wet
In the case of airborne toxins such as asbestos or chips of lead paint, anyone who is around whilst you are digging up the soil may inhale the toxins. To keep them on the ground, work with moisture. Use a hosepipe to wet the dirt as you are doing core drilling and also when you start to excavate larger sections of dirt. To stop the spread of toxins downstream, consider using absorbent barriers around the perimeter of the project. It can also help to move the core driller into the ground slowly so that you don't kick up as much toxins.