Chemical risk assessment for workers involved in soil remediation of industrial polluted sites


  • Teresio Marchì
  • Laura Visentin
  • Maria Gregio
  • Giancarlo Magarotto



Background: The study is part of the project “Control of active or decommissioned industrial sites with high environmental
pollution.â€, financed by the Veneto Italian Region. Remediation activities are generally carried out in the absence
of consolidated experience in chemical risk assessment, neither exposure estimates are present in the scientific literature.
Objectives: The goal of this project is to control the risk assessment and check out the actions to protect workers
employed in the excavation of contaminated soil. Methods: 49 sites have been checked, that occupied 112 workers and
required 27528 hours of work. After those activities 37924 tons of waste were produced. Exposure was measured by
analysing the concentration of pollutants and by biological monitoring. To proceed with a standardized approach, we
produced a methodological document “Checking procedure of remediation sites†that defines the minimum criteria to
be considered in environmental and biological monitoring aimed at chemical risk assessment. Results and conclusions:
It is pointed out that the work of excavation of contaminated soil may expose workers to not irrelevant levels of risk.
Evidence are found of the influence of wind speed on the uptake of non-volatile substances and temperature that increases
the evaporation of volatile substances. For some chemicals, there is a linear regression between the levels of pollution
in the soil and release of pollutant in the air during activity; this anticipates the possibility to define attention thresholds
for the concentration of pollution in the soil.