Volume 92 Issue 32 | pp. 21-22
Issue Date: August 11, 2014

Digging Up The Dirt

Data help draw the line between naturally occurring hazardous elements in soils and industrial pollution
By Charles Schmidt
Department: Government & Policy
Keywords: soil, pollution, cleanups, USGS, arsenic, lead

To differentiate soils that, in their natural state, contain high levels of potentially hazardous elements from those that might be contaminated by human activity, scientists need data. So 10 years ago, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) launched a national program to measure the background levels of arsenic, lead, and 43 other potentially hazardous elements in soil.

Regulators are using these data as they consider how much cleanup is . . .

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Charles Schmidt is a freelance writer based in Portland, Maine.

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