The principal impediment in the remediation of contaminated sites and in the protection of groundwater quality is the lack of appropriate and reasonable standards for heavy metals in soils. There are no standards applicable to predict the potential for groundwater contamination by heavy metals in Taiwan. Lack of these soil standards may result in subjective judgment regarding the remediation needed. The migration of heavy metals through the unsaturated zone to groundwater is controlled by sorption to the soil, a highly pH-dependent process, and the hydrological regime. Soil sorption behavior is the criterion upon which to establish a standard based on a maximum permissible concentration in groundwater. The maximum level of metal in soil for which the equilibrium soluble metal does not exceed the Drinking Water Standard can be computed, at any pH, from the measured adsorption coefficient for any metal and soil. These metal criteria can be used as soil standards that will be protective of groundwater quality. Criteria for soil remediation are based on specific soil types and the effect of pH on metal sorption because the partitioning of trace metals is highly dependent on the solution pH and the chemical nature of the soil.

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