In April 2000, the Contaminated Land Regulations in England and Wales (Environmental Protection Act 1990: Part IIA) came into force. This placed duties on local authorities to inspect their areas and to identify sites that fall into the definition of ‘contaminated land’, and required its assessment and remediation in line with the ‘suitable for use’ approach. In 2002 guidance, known as the Soil Guideline Values (SGVs), was published concerning the assessment of risks to human health from land contamination for a number of inorganic contaminants such as arsenic
In Britain naturally occurring elements and those present as a result of anthropogenic activities, such as arsenic, have been shown to be present in soils at concentrations above the newly introduced SGVs in a number of areas across the UK.
Risk assessments, have traditionally been based on the total concentration of the toxic substance present and more recently have included the use of bioaccessibility testing data.
Where bioaccessibility tests have been carried out, the resulting data have begun to be used as supporting data to provide a scientific basis for modifying the SGVs in light of site specific circumstances. As a result the use of bioaccessibility data could result in a substantial saving when compared with the costs of remediating large volumes of soil.
To ensure the quality and reproducibility of data produced by bioaccessibility tests for both bioaccessibility and total element data, the BGS has collected and prepared a reference soil for use by analytical laboratories.