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Canadian Soil Quality

Canadian Soil Quality Guidelines are numerical concentrations or narrative statements that specify levels of toxic substances or other parameters in soil that are recommended to maintain, improve or protect environmental quality and human health. They are developed using formal protocols to ensure nationally consistent, scientifically defensible values. The guidelines are nationally endorsed through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME). This report reviews the sources and emissions of uranium, its distribution and behaviour in the environment, and its non-radiological (chemical) toxicological effects on soil microorganisms, plants, animals, and humans. Guidelines are derived according to A Protocol for the Derivation of Environmental and Human Health Soil Quality Guidelines (CCME 2005) for various land uses: agricultural, residential/parkland, commercial and industrial. In addition, various check mechanisms considering indirect pathways of exposure (e.g., nutrient and energy cycling check and off-site migration of contaminants via wind and water erosion) are used to provide protection for resources and receptors not otherwise considered in the derivation of soil quality guidelines. The following derived values should be considered for general guidance purposes; however, in the application of these values, site-specific conditions should be considered. Because the guidelines may be applied differently in various jurisdictions, the reader should consult appropriate authorities for guidance in the application of these guidelines. Every attempt was made to provide a conservative estimate that could be applied to any area in Canada. Due to geological conditions, it is possible that natural enrichment will result in exceedances of the soil quality guidelines. Thus, such exceedances do not automatically imply that the ecosystem is compromised. The guideline represents a limit below which no adverse impacts are expected, but site-specific information, such as local background concentrations, should always be considered in the application of these guidelines.