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Designing a contaminated soil sampling strategy for human health risk assessment

Abstract : Human health risk assessment is a site-based approach used to identify the potential health hazards which are induced by an old site contamination. For a proper evaluation of the daily doses of contaminants to which people will be exposed given the future occupation of the site, both a characterization and a quantification of soil pollution are needed. Such information can be provided by soil sampling. Thus the choice of the location, the number, depth and type of soil samples is very important and ought to follow a well-defined strategy. A review of contaminated site sampling practices in Europe and North America could not identify any completely formalized sampling strategy for human health risk assessment. On the contrary there are several approaches which can be roughly classified into two categories: a systematic sampling scheme over the whole site, on the one hand, and a sampling design driven by an initial knowledge of the contamination sources and fitted to the suspected pollution pattern, on the other. The first approach provides a complete coverage of the site but it may be rather expensive and entail useless sampling. The performance of the second depends on the quality of prior information. Actually both methods can be combined as explained hereafter. In view of the specificity of each site, the requirements of health risk assessment and the time and cost constraints, it seems difficult to work out a typical soil sampling strategy suitable for all sites. However, some recommendations can be made according to the site dimensions, the nature, degree and heterogeneity of contamination, and the (future) use of the site. The scientist should thus rely on a thorough examination of all available information (site history, geology and hydrogeology, soil properties, contaminants behaviour, etc.) to delimit contaminated areas as homogeneous as possible and then distribute the sampling points (e.g. using a sampling grid). They should also take the potential exposure paths into account in order to define the areas and soil strata to be sampled as a priority. Statistical and geostatistical tools can be helpful for formulating a sampling strategy as well as for interpreting the collected data.
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Laure Malherbe. Designing a contaminated soil sampling strategy for human health risk assessment. Accreditation and Quality Assurance, Springer Verlag, 2002, 7 (5), pp.189-194. ⟨10.1007/s00769-002-0464-0⟩. ⟨ineris-00961869⟩



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