Naturally Occurring Contamination

In some places, hazardous substances on a site can be naturally occurring, meaning it was not manufactured or created by human activities. Radon is a well-known naturally occurring hazardous substance that can enter into indoor air from radioactive decay of uranium ores and other rock. Other, less often considered, naturally occurring contaminants also can affect a property.

Naturally occurring contaminants of various types might be in the soil, water, or air on or near a site, as in these examples:

    • Soil—might contain asbestos or arsenic.
    • Groundwater used for drinking—might contain arsenic.
    • Indoor air—might contain radon.
    • Outdoor air—might contain asbestos.

Naturally occurring chemical contaminants might be on the ECE program site or a nearby site. If on a nearby site, the chemical contaminants might eventually migrate to the ECE site at levels that could cause harm to children or facility staff.

Chapter 4, Naturally Occurring Contaminants, has more information and examples of naturally occurring chemical contamination that might cause environmental exposures. 

Naturally occurring contamination can be as hazardous as contamination from human activities. Naturally occurring contamination should be considered to ensure safe ECE programs.

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Page last reviewed: October 30, 2018