Many property owners assume that asbestos is only found inside of a home or commercial building and may not realise that asbestos can also be found outside, in the property's soil. There are many reasons why the soil on your property may contain asbestos, and there are a few different ways you might address this issue. Note some important considerations about asbestos in general and about what to do when you discover this substance in soil so you know when to call an asbestos soil removal expert.
How asbestos soil contamination occurs
Dumping asbestos-containing materials is one of the most common reasons for soil to become contaminated with this substance. Items that are dumped might include cement sheets, home insulating materials and pipes that are covered with asbestos.
Demolition of a home or other such building without first removing any asbestos inside that structure can also result in soil contamination. In some cases, asbestos that is inside a home or commercial building can also become airborne and end up in nearby soil.
When asbestos should be removed
Asbestos is only hazardous to your health when its fibres become airborne and are then inhaled. If soil that contains asbestos is tightly compacted, those asbestos fibres in the dirt may not become loose, so the soil may not be dangerous.
However, keep in mind that construction work on the property, and especially work that involves burying plumbing pipes, irrigation equipment, a septic tank and the like, can cause asbestos in soil to become loose and airborne. Excessive vibration can also cause asbestos fibres to become airborne, something to consider if the property with contaminated soil is located near a construction site or manufacturing facility that uses heavy-duty equipment. Large trucks on a busy highway can also cause vibrations that might cause asbestos to come loose from the soil.
How to treat asbestos in soil
To keep asbestos from becoming loose and airborne, affected soil can be pressed or compacted. The addition of materials like lime or clay can also keep the soil solid and reduce the risk of airborne asbestos.
However, in many cases, it's good to simply have asbestos-containing soil removed altogether, and replaced with clean fill dirt. The contaminated soil can then be disposed of properly so that the asbestos is no longer a danger to anyone. Replacing affected soil with clean fill dirt also means you won't need to worry about an asbestos contamination from future construction projects, floods or other such hazards.