The NJDEP recommended early in 1999 that if children play in areas that were formerly in agricultural use before the 1970's, that the areas be tested. Five percent of the state's agricultural land has apparently been contaminated from historical pesticide application, which occurred before the 1970's.

Compounds which should be tested for include lead, arsenic, mercury and DDT. These compounds are particularly of concern because all of these compounds are relatively persistent and do not biodegrade.

The compounds can be found in determinable concentrations in near-surface soils (less than 1 foot below grade). The announcement of findings and the DEP recommendation was made by Assistant Commissioner Richard Gimillo.

RT has been recommending such testing for several years, and already has the knowledge needed to assist property buyers and developers with this issue. Here are the key issues:

  • Hot spots" can be located where pesticide were stored and mixed as part of the application process.
  • "Low points" where sediment settles can have elevated concentrations.
  • A small percentage of sites are highly contaminated and require large cleanups. At these sites, applications of pesticides with lead and arsenic were apparently repeated for a long number of years; the metals do not tend to biodegrade.

At most impacted sites, where pesticide concentrations are low, it is only necessary to be careful with the impacted soil, and, to make sure that all exposed soil materials meets residential direct contact standards.

At most sites, groundwater problems are not at issue as the compounds, except for mercury, tend to adsorb to soils. At commercially developed sites, impacted material can be placed under buildings or roadways.