We've made some changes to EPA.gov. If the information you are looking for is not here, you may be able to find it on the EPA Web Archive or the January 19, 2017 Web Snapshot.

EPA EcoBox

EPA EcoBox Tools by Exposure Pathways - Soil

Overview

SoilSoil can become contaminated as a result of direct or indirect discharges (e.g., from industrial activity, agricultural chemicals, landfills, biosolids), deposition of contaminants from the atmosphere, erosion of soil and runoff flow, and other processes.

Contaminated soil or dust particles can be deposited onto plant surfaces. A stressor released directly to soil could migrate by erosion and runoff flow to nearby soil or adjacent aquatic systems. Contaminants in surface soil can leach to subsoil and groundwater, and contaminated groundwater could discharge to a surface water body.

Exposure to contaminants in soil can occur from direct contact (e.g., ingestion, dermal) or indirect from transfer and subsequent contact with other media (e.g., uptake from soil into vegetation and subsequent ingestion). For example:

Indirect exposure occurs for animals that consume contaminated food and these contaminants can be transferred up the food chainHelpfood chainA food chain is formed as one organism eats another. A food web is a system of interlocking and interdependent food chains, in which each organism supplies energy to another life form..

The diagram below illustrates relationships between potential exposure pathways and potential ecological receptors after a source releases a stressor to soil.

Top of Page

Resources are provided below to assess exposure to ecological receptors that occurs via soil.

Potential exposure pathways and ecological receptors

Full size image of Potential Exposure Pathways and Ecological Receptors

Potential exposure pathways and ecological receptors

Top of Page

Tools

Resources are provided below to assess exposure to ecological receptors that occurs via soil.

Some content on this page requires JavaScript in order to be viewed. If you wish to view content on this page, you must have JavaScript enabled.

Top of Page