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School of Environment and Natural Resources


John Obrycki's Doctoral Scholarly Seminar

Dec 1, 2015, 2:00pm - 3:00pm
245 Kottman Hall

John F. Obrycki, PhD Candidate in Soil Science, will present Out the Window: When Soil Science Meets Environmental Policy as his Doctoral Scholarly Seminar in 245 Kottman Hall.

Soil scientists utilize several methods to evaluate soil contaminants. These methods can provide information about total soil contamination and the fraction of the soil contaminants which are bioavailable. Agencies, such as the state and federal Environmental Protection Agency, have detailed lists of allowable soil contaminant levels. The comparison of soil laboratory results with the regulatory levels is complicated by several factors. Different exposure pathways have different soil standards. This means a soil can be suitable for one specific use but not allowed for another use. Sampling protocols can affect how a soil in a given area is evaluated. Soil standards can vary based upon the region in which the soil is located. This means a contaminated soil in one state would be considered not contaminated in another state. Soil regulatory standards are based upon total contaminant levels and do not always allow for bioavailability adjustments. Existing soil standards may be below soil background levels. Finally, existing soil standards may be below the quantification limits of analytical laboratories.

This presentation discusses these challenges and the implications of evaluating contaminated soils in urban areas. Particular attention is given to the risk communication implications of contaminated soils and the importance of increased soil testing in environmental justice communities. This seminar presents suggestions for improving the connections between soil science and environmental policy, including increased data sharing, increased sampling, and increased discussions about the limitations to evaluating soil contaminants