Environmental Experts Provide Solutions for Identifying Contaminated Soil in Puerto Rico

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Last month, The Atlantic published a report about the high rate of illnesses and cancer on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. The article discussed the Navy’s past use of heavy metals and toxic chemicals on its former military base on the island and potential lingering soil contamination issues that could be impacting people’s health.

The Atlantic Fleet Weapons Training Area is just one of numerous Superfund sites across Puerto Rico. Many residents live and work near these Superfund sites and have health concerns over being so close to a place with known hazardous substances.   Others may also have soil contamination issues near where they live, but are unaware of the situation.

Soil contamination results when hazardous substances are either spilled or buried directly in the soil or migrate to the soil from another area. For example, old lead-based paints or asbestos containing building materials can settle into areas around a home where children play. Another source of soil contamination could be water that washes contamination from an area containing hazardous substances and deposits the contamination in the soil as it flows over or through it.

Soil contamination is due to either solid or liquid hazardous substances mixed with the naturally occurring soil. Usually, contaminants in the soil are physically or chemically attached to soil particles, or, if they are not attached, are trapped in the small spaces between soil particles.

“Contaminants in the soil can adversely impact the health of humans and animals when they ingest, inhale or touch contaminated soil, or when they eat plants or animals that have themselves been affected by soil contamination,” said Harry Pena, President of Zimmetry Environmental. “Humans can come into contact with contaminants when they play in contaminated soil or dig in the soil as part of their work. Certain contaminants, when they contact skin, can even be absorbed into the body. When contaminants are attached to small surface soil particles they can become airborne as dust and then be inhaled.”

The soil contamination experts at Zimmetry specialize in identifying and testing for a wide range of soil contaminants to determine if there is a potential problem. They have also sponsored an educational video soil contamination that can be seen at: https://youtu.be/iAmHToVhm2A

To learn more about Zimmetry Environmental and their environmental, occupational, industrial hygiene, air quality, compliance and consulting services, please visit www.zimmetry.com, call (787) 995.0005 or emailinfo@zimmetry.com .

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