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Soil Screening Guidance

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The Soil Screening Guidance (SSG) presents a framework for developing risk-based, soil screening levels (SSLs) for protection of human health. The framework provides a flexible, tiered approach to site evaluation and screening level development. The SSG focuses on a simple methodology for developing site-specific screening levels, but also includes detailed models and generic SSLs to be used where site conditions warrant. Screening levels are not national cleanup levels; instead, they are intended to be used to streamline the evaluation and cleanup of site soils by helping site managers eliminate areas, pathways and/or chemicals of concern at National Priority List sites.

The SSG is presented in three documents:

  1. A Quick Reference Fact Sheet, which provides an overview of the development and use of the soil screening levels.
  2. A User's Guide, which provides details for implementing the simple, site-specific methodology for calculating site-specific SSLs.
  3. A Technical Background Document (TBD), which presents the technical foundation of the soil screening process, detailed site-specific models and generic SSLs.

The 2002, "Supplemental Guidance for Developing Soil Screening Levels for Superfund Sites," is a companion guidance to the 1996 Soil Screening Guidance (SSG). It builds upon the soil screening framework for residential land use scenarios established in the original guidance, adding new scenarios for soil screening evaluations. It also updates the residential scenario in the 1996 SSG, adding exposure pathways and incorporating new modeling data. The following specific changes included in this document supersede the 1996 SSG:

  • New methods for developing SSLs based on non-residential land use and construction activities;
  • New SSL equations for combined exposures via ingestion and dermal absorption;
  • Updated dispersion modeling data for the residential air exposure model; and,
  • New methods to develop SSLs for the migration of volatiles from subsurface sources into indoor air.

Except for these new equations and updated modeling data, the soil screening process remains the same as the one presented in the 1996 SSG. Therefore, this document presents the process in less detail than the original guidance, and focuses instead on specific elements of soil screening evaluation that differ for residential, non-residential, and construction scenarios.

In 1996, EPA issued the Soil Screening Guidance (SSG) as a tool to help standardize and accelerate the evaluation and cleanup of contaminated soils at sites on the National Priorities List (NPL). The SSG provides site managers with a tiered framework for developing risk-based, site-specific soil screening levels (SSLs) for the protection of human health.

The 1996 SSG quantitatively addressed the following pathways of exposure in a residential setting:

  • Direct contact with contaminated soils;
  • Inhalation of volatiles and fugitive dusts from undisturbed soils; and,
  • Ingestion of groundwater contaminated by the migration of chemicals through site soils.

In addition, the 1996 SSG discussed the potential for dermal exposure to certain contaminants in site soils and for migration of volatile contaminants from the subsurface into indoor air. However, data limitations prevented the program from fully addressing these pathways.

This Supplemental Soil Screening Guidance document is intended as companion guidance to the 1996 SSG for residential use scenarios at NPL sites. It builds upon the soil screening framework established in the original guidance, adding new scenarios for soil screening evaluations. It also updates the residential scenario in the 1996 SSG, adding exposure pathways and incorporating new modeling data. The following specific changes included in this document supersede the 1996 SSG:

  • New methods for developing SSLs based on non-residential land use and construction activities;
  • New SSL equations for combined exposures via ingestion and dermal absorption;
  • Updated dispersion modeling data for the residential air exposure model; and
  • New methods to develop SSLs for the migration of volatiles from subsurface sources into indoor air.

Except for these new equations and updated modeling data, the soil screening process remains the same as the one presented in the 1996 SSG. Therefore, this document presents the process in less detail than the original guidance, and focuses instead on specific elements of soil screening evaluation that differ for residential, non-residential, and construction scenarios. Users of this guidance should refer to the SSG User's Guide and Technical Background Document (U.S. EPA, 1996c and 1996b) for additional information on modeling approaches, data sources, and other important details of conducting soil screening evaluations at NPL sites.

Soil Screening Guidance: Fact Sheet

This fact sheet summarizes key aspects of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Soil Screening Guidance.

Fact Sheet: June 1996
EPA Document Number: EPA540/F-95/041
(213K, 12 pp)

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Soil Screening Guidance: User's Guide

EPA Document Number: EPA540/R-96/018
July 1996

The Soil Screening Guidance is a tool developed by EPA to help standardize and accelerate the evaluation and cleanup of contaminated soils at sites on the National Priorities List (NPL) where future residential land use is anticipated. The User's Guide provides a simple step-by-step methodology for environmental science/engineering professionals to calculate risk-based, site-specific soil screening levels (SSLs) for contaminants in soil that may be used to identify areas needing further investigation at NPL sites.

Soil Screening Guidance: User's Guide
(425K, 49 pp)

Attachment A: Conceptual Site Model Summary
(417K, 19 pp)
The CSM summary forms and worksheets contain the information necessary to determine the applicability of SSLs to the site, and help focus data collection efforts to gather information needed to calculate SSLs.

Attachment B: Soil Screening DQOs for Surface Soils and Subsurface Soils
(57K, 6 pp)
This attachment illustrates the Data Quality Objectives (DQO) Process for surface soil sampling using the Max test, and for subsurface soil sampling. The completion of all the requirements set out in the DQO process during the implementation of the Soil Screening Guidance is needed to satisfy Superfund program objectives.

Attachment C: Chemical Properties for SSL Development
(123K, 9 pp)
This attachment provides the chemical properties necessary to calculate inhalation and migration to ground water SSLs for 110 chemicals commonly found at Superfund sites. Chemical properties for additional contaminants may be found in the Superfund Chemical Data Matrix (SCDM).

Attachment D: Regulatory and Human Health Benchmarks for SSL Development
(198K, 6 pp)
This attachment provides the regulatory and human health benchmarks necessary to calculate SSLs as determined by 1995 versions of either IRIS or HEAST.

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