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Soil Contamination Found at Multiple Schools on the Big Island of Hawaii

EMSL Analytical offers soil testing services to protect students, teachers and the public from exposure risks to hazardous materials.

Cinnaminson, NJ – WEBWIRE

A few months ago, the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) announced that that a soil study of 23 schools on the Big Island of Hawaii, conducted with the support of the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH), had been completed. It has resulted in school-specific environmental hazard management plans (EHMPs) for 18 of the schools due to the presence of contaminated soil.

The DOH reports that lead, arsenic and organochlorine pesticide (OCP) contamination has been found at the schools and warns that “… contamination is not unique to schools and could persist around any older home or building.” In a fact sheet about the soil contamination it was reported that soil testing showed that approximately 60% of the schools had areas with elevated soil lead levels, 20% had elevated soil arsenic levels and 20% had areas with elevated organochlorine pesticide levels.

Regarding immediate measure to protect against exposure, HIDOE stated, “Areas found to have the highest soil contamination were addressed with containment measures, and mitigation efforts are continuing at some campuses. Containment measures have included the removal and proper disposal of impacted soil; planting of clean soil, ground cover or pavers; and restricted access to affected areas.”

Soil contamination typically occurs if hazardous substances are either spilled or buried directly in the soil or migrate to the soil from a spill that has occurred elsewhere. In some circumstances, the contaminants can settle out of the air. These soil contaminants are usually physically or chemically attached to soil particles, or, if they are not attached, are trapped in the small spaces between soil particles. 

“In these cases, the DOH reports that the lead is likely due to the past use of lead-based paints, the arsenic from weed control measures from the 1910s through the 1940s, and the OCPs from termite control efforts from the 1940s through the 1980s,” said Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President of Marketing at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “Contaminated soil like this can be a concern for everyone, but is especially an issue for children that may play and come in direct contact with it. Some types of soil contaminants can be absorbed through the skin, while others can attach to small surface soil particles that can become airborne as dust and then inhaled.”

With dozens of laboratories throughout the United States and Canada, EMSL Analytical, Inc. can help identify exposure risks through soil testing. EMSL offers a wide range of testing to identify everything from heavy metals, pesticides and industrial chemicals to microbial pathogens.

To learn more about soil testing or other environmental, health and safety services, please visit, call (800) 220-3675 or email .

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is one of the leading testing laboratories with over 46 locations throughout the United States and Canada. EMSL is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider specializing in fast laboratory results for mold, bacteria, Legionella, USP 797, pathogens, asbestos, lead, soot, char & ash from fires, VOC’s, odors, radon, formaldehyde, indoor air quality, microbiology, environmental, industrial hygiene, radiological, food, beverage & consumer products and material testing services for the identification of unknown substances. EMSL services both professionals and the general public. EMSL maintains an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies including, but not limited to A2LA, AIHA LAP, LLC. (AIHA EMLAP, AIHA IHLAP, AIHA ELLAP), NVLAP, CDC ELITE, CPSC, CA ELAP, NY ELAP, TX DOH, NJDEP and multiple other state accrediting agencies. Please visit our website at for a complete listing of accreditations. In addition, EMSL carries a wide range of Sampling Equipment and Investigative Products for environmental professionals.

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