We frequently get looks of horror when we tell delegates that risk assessors and reviewers need to understand the chemistry of each contaminant of concern. But this does not mean risk assessors and local authority regulators need degree-level chemistry, simply an outline understand of the chemical properties of each contaminant.
Armed with this information a risk assessor or regulator can start to address important questions about the potential risks each contaminant may pose because these chemical properties dictate how it will behave in the environment. Will it be mobile or will it bind to organic matter within the soil? Is is soluble and likely to leach towards the groundwater? Will it behave as a NAPL? And if so will form a floating layer on top of the groundwater (an LNAPL) or sink to the base of the aquifer (a DNAPL)? Will it form a vapour that could impact nearby properties? Is it likely to be bioaccumulatory and persistent? Without the answers to these types of questions a risk assessor cannot be sure that their conceptual site model includes all the relevant pathways and receptors for that contaminant, and so cannot guarantee that the resulting risk assessment is suitable, sufficient and robust.
LQM’s Introduction to Chemistry for Contaminated Land course is designed to assist delegates of any level to understand the likely behaviour of contaminants in the environment and help them to translate the names in a analytical certificate into concepts relating to potential risks. But chemistry does not need to be boring and, although the day covers a lot of information, it is designed to be fun and interactive – most people particularly enjoy building models of their favorite organic contaminants so that they can put a “face” to the names.
We will next be running this course in Nottingham in February and again in June, so if you think you or a colleague may benefit from a better understanding of contaminant chemistry, please check out the course content and book via our webiste http://www.lqm.co.uk/training/introchem/.