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Naturally Occurring Hazardous Materials
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Filetype[PDF-4.18 MB]

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  • Edition:
    Final report.
  • NTL Classification:
    NTL-ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT-Hazardous Materials Transportation ; NTL-ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT-Environment Impacts ;
  • Abstract:
    The study of naturally occurring hazardous materials (NOHMs) was conceived as a proactive response to assure that the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) maintenance and construction activities take the presence of NOHMs into account. The label of NOHM is given to certain elements, minerals, and materials of a varied geologic nature found in natural deposits or as contaminants that could have consequences on the well-being of those exposed to these earthy materials. Many elements, minerals (non-fuel and industrial minerals), and other rocks meet the NOHM criteria, particularly those that pose health hazards through their physical properties (e.g., size, shape, dissolutions traits). It is when such an occurrence is disturbed, crushed, or exposed to natural weathering and erosion, or to human activities that create dust that a potential risk may arise and possibly pose a human health or environmental concern. Out of 42 possible NOHMs, ODOT’s Technical Advisory Committee picked 16 for the project. Ten ODOT sites across Oregon were sampled for the presence (or absence) of any one of these NOHMs, from which 15 composited samples were collected. Of these, 4 samples were analyzed for multi-elements (35 analytes), 10 samples were examined for zeolite minerals with erionite being the mineral of interest, and 2 samples were examined for asbestos minerals. Five samples from four sites contained fibrous material in suspension. X-ray fluorescence diffraction (XRD) was unable to match the fibrous material with zeolite XRD pattern matching standards. However, Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) data of the fibrous material points to offretite’s chemistry field, a zeolite species closely associated with erionite or possibly a Mg-poor erionite. The incongruity between the XRD and TEM results tends to confound analytical interpretation and the results are unfortunately inconclusive. At two ODOT sites, multi-element analysis by ICP-AEA with trace Hg by Cold Vapor/AAS revealed elevated levels of As and other analytes. Anthophyllite and chrysotile, both regulated asbestos minerals, were detected in two samples from the Chancellor quarry using NIOSH 9002 method (PLM/DS procedures). A NOHM-GIS interpretative layer, called NGIL, is an important outcome of this project. It was developed to map where the 16 NOHMs picked for the project are likely to be encountered. To convey NOHM information to ODOT personnel, a relative NOHM hazard potential was assigned to geologic unit polygons held in the Oregon Digital Geologic Compilation. The relative NOHM hazard potential is expressed in qualitative terms of ‘Most’, ‘Moderate’, or ‘Least’ likely. To arrive at a hazard classification, various data rules were devised based on geological factors, expert knowledge, and databases either developed or enhanced for the project. NGIL is also linked to a database of the characteristics, hazards, analytical methods, and precautions that are associated with each NOHM.

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