This document provides guidance on the type and extent of soil characterization necessary for the evaluation of human exposure to substances present in possibly leading to adverse effects.
It does not provide guidance on:
- the design or selection of numerical models that can be used to estimate exposure;
- potential exposure to radioactivity, pathogens or asbestos in soil.
Background information is provided on human health related to exposure to soil and the influence on exposure via different pathways.
NOTE 1 For convenience "soil" in this document also includes "soil material" unless stated otherwise.
NOTE 2 Overall exposure can be due to potentially harmful substances (PHSs) in soil, groundwater and air. Exposure to those in soil can be direct (e.g. through inhalation, ingestion, cutaneous contact), or indirect (through the consumption of plants or animals that have taken up substances of concern).
NOTE 3 The evaluation of the possible impact on human health of potentially harmful substances is most commonly required when these are present as a result of human activity (e.g. on old industrial sites) but can sometimes be required when they are present naturally.
NOTE 4 Soil characterization precedes the assessment of the compatibility between soil and its use (i.e. soil quality assessment). Tools such as a conceptual site model (CSM) and health risk assessment can be used to aid this assessment.
NOTE 5 Soil characterization can be used to develop an overview of population exposure to soil. Other International Standards are available that can aid the characterization of other media (e.g. surface and groundwater), in terms of their possible adverse effects on humans.