To address and help mitigate potential public health and ecological impacts associated with contaminated soil, most state environmental agencies have promulgated cleanup standards or action level criteria that are based broadly on US Environmental Protection Agency risk assessment methodologies. These standards or criteria often are assembled into easy-to-use look-up tables that allow responsible parties (RPs) to determine quickly the extent of remediation that could be required simply by comparing site investigation data to the listed cleanup goal or standard. This paper compares and contrasts soil remediation standards and criteria for 20 common soil pollutants taken from state environmental agency look-up tables for five Middle Atlantic States: New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. We examine the differences between numeric remedial goals for these pollutants and propose a relative rank for each state based on the overall degree of soil cleanup standard or criterion stringency. In order to identify and rank the stringency of the residential cleanup goals or standards published by the six Mid-Atlantic States, a three-step process was used that included compiling in one data set, the numerical (mg/kg), residential or unrestricted use look-up values published by state for each of the 20 contaminants; organizing and grouping those values in numerical sequence into one of three categories ranging from lowest (Most Restrictive) to highest (Least Restrictive); and then ranking each state by the number of first place finishes in each stringency category: Most Restrictive, Moderately Restrictive, and Least Restrictive. The socioeconomic consequences of these ranks were examined relative to their effects on gross state product, unemployment, and health.
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