asbestos in soil

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by Fouad, Jan 31, 2009.

  1. Fouad

    Fouad Junior Member

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    Hi all, just joined the site been wanting to design a garden for a while. Does anyone know if asbestos in soil is bad for growing vegetables on for eating. do the roots absorb asbestos. How dangerous is the contamination to eating vegetables. thanks
     
  2. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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    Re: asbestos in soil

    Asbestos is deadly
    If you have it in your soil you should have it PROFESSIONALLY removed immediately.
     
  3. Hamishmac

    Hamishmac Junior Member

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    Re: asbestos in soil

    Fouad,

    The main risk to human health from asbestos is caused by breathing in tiny fibres which lodge in the lungs. Disturbing asbestos-contaminated soil in any way is a potent way of making these fibres airbourne and thus at risk of inhalation.

    I wouldn't be doing anything that disturbs contaminated soil. I'd be seeking professional advice too.

    Hamish
     
  4. ppp

    ppp Junior Member

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    Re: asbestos in soil

    my understanding is that there is mainly only risk to health where dust is formed. how do you know there is asbestos and how much is there?
     
  5. Fouad

    Fouad Junior Member

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    Re: asbestos in soil

    oi hey guys,,, ummmm the spot I'm talking about is in my backyard. its covered with grass. not sure how much asbestos is in the area. my dad said its two footings about one foot under ground. i was thinking if i made a raised bed on top of the grass i wouldn't be disturbing the soil and the roots wouldn't even reach the grass that much. thats if i made a raised garden bed like 2 foot high of compose. thanks again...
     
  6. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    Re: asbestos in soil

    g'day fouad,

    i realy can't see an issue, the health problems for some(not all who breath it in are affected which may be the greater of the at risk group?) are with asbestos are related to breathing in the dry dust/fibres, not the ingesting of it even if you got it into your stomach. so while it is damp and in the soil it should be fairly innert.

    do raised beds for sure, they are the best way to garden.

    len
     
  7. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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    Re: asbestos in soil

    Some links that might help
    https://www.ferret.com.au/c/Getex/Asbest ... il-n715887

    https://www.getex.com.au/services1.php

    https://www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/__data/ ... 007_08.pdf

    https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/media/downlo ... 535amp.pdf
     
  8. spritegal

    spritegal Junior Member

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    Re: asbestos in soil

    Asbestos is a natural material and as such in metmorphic areas of Australia you can find quite a lot of it in the subsoil.

    It depends on whether it is blue or white asbestos as to how dangerous it might be. If the material is white asbestos, buried, and you intend to build over it and leave it undisturbed, then I can't see any reason why you can't just leave it where it is.

    Its not going to break down, get absorbed into your vegies or anything like that. It is quite different to say arsenic or hexavalent chromium or low fraction polyaromatic hydrocarbons, such as benzene or toluene, all of which you wouldn't want anywhere near your fruit and veg.

    As other members have said, asbestos is only dangerous when inhaled or disturbed in some way.

    It is extremely expensive to get it removed to landfill and the DEC (or equivalent in your state) requires to to hire a licensed asbestos removal contractor. You will pay big bucks for something which is of very limited risk if it is left well alone.
     
  9. fruit fly

    fruit fly Junior Member

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    Re: asbestos in soil

    Gday,
    This question is off topic, but when I saw the word arsenic in the last post I thought it might be worth asking someone here. Arsenic is something that has been on my mind for about 15 years and somthing I can not find much about in relation to my problem. My work place used to be an old skin dealer where arsenic was used everyday soaking into the floor board and earth underneath etc .Ive always wondered if the residue in the floor may cause a risk to my health? there is also a patch on the floor where a barrel of the stuff leaked leaving a stain and still a smell even today when you go near it. We no longer use arsenic in my line of work but ive always been worried about it. I have confronted the boss about the danger and they fob it off saying you are only at risk if you ingest the stuff. If anyone knows if arsenic is harmful as a residue in floor boards as ive discribed I would be very greatful for your info.
    sorry for hijacking the thread but ive lost alot of sleep on this one :evil:
    thanks fruit fly
     
  10. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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    Re: asbestos in soil

    Most of the stuff on the web seems to suggest that arsenic is poorly absorbed though the skin.

    I vaguely remember some concerns about inhaling sawdust with arsenic treated timber.

    Everything is a poison; what matters is the dose.

    But I'm not an expert. Contact a chemistry Prof. or Ph.D., student at the Uni. or your doctor to check and put your mind at rest.

    Funny I was reading a book by Dr. Karl about the Australian Bogon moth and arsenic.
    In the 20 arsenic was used extensively as a pesticide.
    When the Bogons' migrate south to live in the cool alpine caves they are in massive numbers. Around the caves today are large dead areas of vegetation caused by arsenic ( lots of dead animal at one time too.) excreted by the moths as they had dined on arsenic treated crops.

    Made me wonder about the more dangerous, bio-accumulative organophosphates and chlorinated hydrocarbons we started using after WW2
     
  11. spritegal

    spritegal Junior Member

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    Re: asbestos in soil

    Fruit fly, your concerns are perfectly valid. I used to remediate contaminated sites, including tanneries, so had to deal with the stuff a fair bit in day to day work. The stuff you are dealing with is probably either arsenic trioxide or sodium arsenite. Long term, constant exposure to these particular compounds can lead to liver damage, keratosis or skin cancer.

    Arsenic is almost the complete opposite of asbestos in terms of mobility. It is highly mobile in water, and can leach from timber given certain conditions such as long external exposure or the application of solvents to the timber. However inhaling it is highly unlikely if it has already penetrated the timber. If the workplace was on sandy soil and you had a water spearpoint (or bore) on the site, and the workers showered in it, or drank the water, then you'd have real cause for concern.

    As long as you keep away from the area, or use gloves if handling anything near the area and then wash your hands well before eating lunch, then it should not pose a significant risk to your health. Arsenic risk in your workplace would fall into two categories; drinking water contaminated from arsenic, or using tanning solutions without adequate protective clothing, gloves and face mask (for splash protection), and then eating or drinking something without washing your hands properly. It can penetrate the skin (arsenic trioxide) if exposed to significant amounts.

    Arsenic can also be inhaled in the form of arsine gas, but considering your work environment, this would be unlikely.

    If you are concerned about it see your doctor and ask a hair and nail test. A urine or blood test wouldn't be of much use unless you had been dippped in a vat of arsenic because your body excretes about 2/3 of arsenic within 24 hours of exposure. Long term cumulative buildup is assessed through hair and nail samples.

    If I was working with you, I would consider my risk of arsenic poisoning to be low, as long as I kept away from the area and washed my hands before eating or drinking.
     
  12. fruit fly

    fruit fly Junior Member

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    Re: asbestos in soil

    Gday
    Spritegal thank you for taking the time to sit down type a post and share your expertise on my situation, you have given me a fair bit of relief. Your info coming from someone who has worked in this type of field is hard to find with out causing a grand inquizition.As you would understand its a pretty touchy subject(from my employers point of view) and asking questions to goverment bodies such as EPA etc will no doubt cause friction and uneployment for me had I gone in all guns blazing with out knowing the full picture and risk of the potential problem.
    What to do now? I reckon I'll get my self to doctor something I should have already done see what they say.
    It's getting harder and harder to find people who will take the time to help someone else with getting nothing in return so thanks again and all the best of luck :D
    fruit fly
     
  13. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    Re: asbestos in soil

    hey fruitfly,

    make sure your doc' understand you want a hair sample taken, as far as i know they get sent to the USA or did for apropriate test. it will tell all.

    len
     
  14. fruit fly

    fruit fly Junior Member

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    Re: asbestos in soil

    yep no worries Len .I live in a small country town wheather that makes it harder or not i dunno, hopfully the doctor will be able to help.
    thanks fruit fly
     
  15. Suzie

    Suzie Junior Member

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    Re: asbestos in soil

    Hi,
    Its good to know that arsenic information - I hope you are safe and not affected.
    But can I stear the discussion back to asbestos please?
    I live in an old house made of asbestos. I don't know what has gone on in the past but I often find small roken pieces of
    asbestos sheet in the soil as I am gardening. I usually just wrap them and throw them into the bin and continue planting
    my herbs, flowers etc. In old times everything was just dug into the soil as they didn't have garbage collections so you
    never know what you will find in the garden - which is a bit disturbing.

    My issue is that I recently swept out the shed and painted the raw asbestos walls in there - then my lungs felt congested and
    I realised that there was probably asbestos in the dirt that I swept out. Eeeeeek. What should I do now?

    I know this was a bit silly. I was trying to seal the stuff as I can't afford to replace it at the moment.

    Thanks for any advice.
     
  16. seaninjaxfla

    seaninjaxfla New Member

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    a couple of years ago a school was imploded across the street from the home I now rent.. a local govt group called new ground says they are going to dig out 8 inches of dirt throughout my yard and replace it with safe soil.. isn't it more dangerous to disturb this soul than to leave it be? is it really necessary to dig up my yard??
     
  17. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    likely an improvement for the area, as the chances are that the soil was also contaminated with lead.
     

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