John Libbey Eurotext

Environnement, Risques & Santé


Regional guidelines for trace metal concentrations in soils: Their use in health risk assessments Volume 7, issue 2, Mars-Avril 2008


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Cellule interrégionale d’épidémiologie (Cire) Ile-de-France, Direction régionale des Affaires sanitaires et sociales (Drass) Ile-de-France, 58-62, rue de Mouzaïa, 75935 Paris cedex 19, Institut national de la recherche agronomique (Inra), UR0272 Science du sol, Centre d’Orléans, BP 20619, 45166 Olivet cedex, Cellule interrégionale d’épidémiologie (Cire) Centre-Ouest, Drass Centre, 25, boulevard Jean Jaurès, 45044 Orléans cedex 1, Institut national de veille sanitaire (InVS), Département santé-environnement, 12, rue du Val-d’Osne, 94415 Saint-Maurice cedex

District environmental health departments, which report to the French Health Ministry, are regularly asked to approve the redevelopment of former industrial sites into new urban projects. This requires a complete diagnosis of the soil at the site and a comparison of the concentration of various pollutants with those in comparable undeveloped or rural soils. In France, there are currently no general or regulatory standards for assessing soil quality. Because soil composition depends highly on the subjacent parent rock, regional standards would facilitate a more locally appropriate assessment of “normal” concentrations of a given trace element. This tool could then be used to define criteria for selecting pollutants for scrutiny during evaluations. In this paper, we provide reference values for eight trace elements (cadmium, chromium, copper, mercury, nickel, lead, selenium and zinc) for the “Ile-de-France” and “Centre” regions. When these values are exceeded, the element should be assessed as a potential pollutant. For each element, thresholds correspond to the 95 th percentile of the available data, and we consider only data for ploughed horizons of cultivated soils. This approach provides a reference state for the officials responsible for the evaluation of each region, consistent with the new policies for management of polluted sites implemented by the Ministry of the Environment.