Massachusetts Evaluation of Potential Soil Contamination

Summary: The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) Choose Safe Places Programexternal icon helped evaluate potential exposure to contaminated soil at a childcare program.

Health professional collecting soil samples for screening.

Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) contacted the MDPH Choose Safe Places Program after learning about contaminated soil at a childcare program. The program is in an area undergoing investigation for years of dumping.

As part of the investigation, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) tested surface soil at the childcare facility. Some soil samples exceeded MassDEP standards for arsenic, lead, polychlorinated biphenyls, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

To assist EEC, the Choose Safe Places Program reviewed soil sampling data and discussed concerns with MassDEP. Following these discussions, the Program reassured EEC that there are no current exposure and no health risks for children and staff as they were in areas that are not accessible to the children or staff.

However, the Choose Safe Places Program made several recommendations:

  • Children should not be allowed to dig through pea gravel and wood chips in the play yard.
  • People should obey posted signs to stay off the front yard.
  • The owner should prevent exposure by ensuring proper maintenance of the pea gravel and wood chips.
  • The owner should have children wash hands after being outside.

The Choose Safe Places Program offered to explain these recommendations to the owner and answer health questions from staff or parents. EEC thanked the Choose Safe Places Program for the technical assistance and expressed relief that children are being protected.

Page last reviewed: August 11, 2021