Former Uses of The Site

Past uses of a site can leave contamination on the property that exposes people who are currently using the site. Some contaminants left on a site might disappear quickly and others might stay on the site long into the future. In many urban and suburban areas, it might be hard to find sites for ECE programs that were never used for some industry or business. Reuse of a site is in many cases a good use of land and buildings within a community. Even if a site seems clean or unused, it might not be free of chemical or radiological hazards. It is important to take the proper steps in determining whether or not a site is suitable for an ECE program. When deciding whether to locate an ECE program on a site used for other activities, consider the following:

  • Prior activities at the site that could have contaminated the inside of buildings (examples: manufacturing or funeral home).
  • Contamination of the outdoor environment, such as soil, surface water, or groundwater (examples: auto junk yard or residual pesticides from farming).
  • Prior use, storage, or disposal of potentially hazardous substances on site (examples: a dump site or underground storage tank).
  • Existing or former structures on the property that contain or once contained harmful substances (examples: storage shed, underground storage tanks).
  • Physical hazards that could be evidence of contamination that may still be on site (examples: abandoned wells or debris).
  • Potentially hazardous building materials in structures on the site (examples: asbestos insulation, PCBs in light ballasts or caulk, lead-based paint).
  • Use of contaminated fill on the site anytime in the past.
  • Vapor intrusion of chemical contaminants in groundwater or soil from past activities on the site (example: former dry cleaners).6

Not all past site use will present a problem for current ECE program sites. Identifying those sites with a problematic past use that might produce harmful environmental exposures is critical to protecting children.

6 For more information on vapor intrusion, see [PDF – 114 KB] and [PDF – 257 KB]

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Page last reviewed: October 30, 2018