2020-12-02

Do you really know what's hiding beneath your feet?

Although Quebec has strict environmental regulations, your home may be surrounded by contaminated soil. In fact, regulations in this area have been avoided without any serious penalties for many years.

Today, with studies proving the health and environmental risks of contaminated soil, it is important to know what could be under your lawn.

Here are the main contaminants found in residential areas.

Fuel oil from a leaking heating oil tank

Old or poorly maintained heating systems, especially those that run on oil, are responsible for a large amount of contaminated soil in Quebec. Heating oil can contaminate a portion of land if it leaks from a filler pipe or tank that has not been inspected in awhile.

Although they are rarely harmful to the health of the occupants, minor oil spills can cause damage to the building and should be dealt with by residential environmental services specialists quickly.

Coal from when it was used to heat buildings

Coal is another contaminant that can be found in residential areas. Like fuel oil, it comes mainly from the heating of buildings. When furnaces could be fuelled by coal, it was common to take the hot ashes to the back of the yard.

As a result, residents of some older neighbourhoods who are digging in their gardens may come into contact with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals.

Hazardous residual materials

Homeowners across Quebec sometimes learn that their section of the street rests on a former landfill site where tires, glass, metals and household waste were buried.  

In addition to the hazardous waste buried under their property, they also have to deal with risks of soil subsidence and biogas emissions.

Ashes from a fire

In the past, it was not uncommon to bury the ashes and charred wood of burned buildings directly at the site of the disaster, which is obviously forbidden today.

Buried ash is problematic, but considerable amounts of lead (especially from paint), zinc and copper can also end up in the ground at levels that exceed residential eligibility. 

Potentially hazardous backfill materials

For many years, foundries have distributed some of their industrial residues free of charge so that they could be used as backfill. 

Today, it is known that some of these smelter residues may contain nickel and other metals. It is not uncommon to find contaminated soil from smelter sands on residential properties in the Joliette sector of the Lanaudière region.

Is your lot contaminated?

At EBI Enviro Urgence, we are experienced in contaminated soil remediation. Contact our team if you think that one of the contaminants mentioned in this article can be found on your property.

We will decontaminate your land and dispose of the contaminated soil in compliance with government regulations, for your own good and that of the environment.