What is Contamination Testing?

by | Jun 1, 2022

Prior to the development of a project, it is crucial to utilise contamination testing to resolve any potential issues that may arise. Here at Borehole Solutions, we offer a range of testing services to identify any suspected contamination and suggest advice regarding the next steps following its discovery.

The Process

Contamination testing involves sending samples of the ground away to test for any suspected contaminants. There are a number of signs to look out for that may suggest contamination of the land. For example, there may be an unusual odour emanating from the earth or from barren patches of grass. Additionally, the presence of metal pipes or industrial lead may also be a potential source of contamination.

Why is Contamination Testing Important?

There are several reasons that may cause the land to be tested for contamination. If you are thinking about working on a new development project, those requiring planning permission generally involve contamination testing as part of the approvals process and contamination land protocols. Other reasons may be to identify materials for waste disposal or to test the ground following a pollution incident.

Contaminated Land

Whether in rural communities or large cities, the issue of contaminated land from industrial activity is widespread. The blame is being pointed at agricultural chemicals, our industrial heritage and landfills. The UK’s government definition for contaminated land is when the land has the potential to cause “significant harm to people, property and protected species”. This definition also considers pollution of groundwater, surface waters and the potential for harm caused by radioactivity.

Services at Borehole Solutions

Our professional team of geotechnical engineers undertake thorough site investigations to identify sources of contamination through our testing services and assessments along WAC testing services (Waste Acceptance Criteria testing). From each collected sample, Borehole Solutions provide statistical data and further advice if traces of contaminants are discovered.

We can highlight the presence of many contaminants through our testing services, including:

  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Asbestos
  • Arsenic
  • Cadmium
  • Chromium
  • Copper
  • Nickel
  • Zinc
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Selenium
  • Vanadium
  • Cyanide

What is PCB? 

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were previously used extensively across various industries due to their impressive chemical stability. PCB mixtures were commonly found in plasticisers, hydraulic fluids, coolants, as well as caulking sealants. However, in the early 1980s, the use of PCBs in new equipment was banned as a result of the chemicals being found to be highly carcinogenic and harmful to human health. However, PCBs can still contaminate areas today – particularly in old industrial sites – and as such, need both testing and removing.

Testing for PCB 

In order to test for PCB, soil sampling is necessary. These samples are collected and sent away to a certified laboratory to be tested for contaminants. If the quantity of PCBs results in subsequent required disposal, then this too must be appropriately carried out. Typically, the chemicals are disposed of by an approved incinerator, as specified by The National Association of Waste Disposal Contractors (NAWDC).

Contact Us

For more information regarding our suite of contamination testing services, then get in touch today! Contact Borehole Solutions on 01733 200 501 or by emailing us at info@boreholesolutions.com. Alternatively, complete our online enquiry form via our contact page. We look forward to working with you!