Tougher Canada guideline for lead contaminated soils being considered

The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment has issued a draft discussion document proposing tougher standards for lead in soil. Lead occurs mostly in areas where industrial activities involving lead have historically taken place. With such activities involving a number of processes such as building of vehicle batteries, contamination from broken vehicle batteries, recycling of vehicle batteries, paint manufacture, and burning of coal, lead contaminated sites are not uncommon.

The proposed new soil quality guidelines are:

  • for agricultural soils:  70 parts per million, a new guideline
  • for residential and parkland soils: 76 parts per million, down from the current guideline of 140 ppm
  • for soil on commercial sites: 110 ppm, down from the current guideline of 260 ppm
  • for soil on industrial sites: 150 ppm, down from the current guideline of 600 ppm.

These figures are still draft. The guidelines have no direct legal effect but may in future influence regulations concerning contaminated sites and should therefore be of interest to industry associations and others potentially affected by lead contamination.

The discussion document and a scientific criteria document may be found at http://www.ccme.ca/ourwork/soil.html?category_id=44 and is open for public comment until March 4, 2013.

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