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Be aware of “dirty” dirt

November 18, 2022 11:00 AM

​DEP wants to help residents and contractors in Pennsylvania ensure they do not accept or use fill materials that may cause contamination. Fill materials are used to bring sites to desirable grades to enhance the usefulness of the properties. Homeowners and contractors need to be aware that there are some “fill” materials out there that can cause potential environmental and/or health concerns, as well as open up property owners to potential liabilities. “Dirty dirt” can leach chemicals into clean soil and groundwater, and carry toxic chemicals like arsenic and lead.

A truck unloads a pile of fill dirt

Here are a few tips to ensure you are using acceptable fill materials on your property:

Ask for documentation about the source of the fill

  • a bill of lading for any purchased fill material
  • an official DEP FP-001 form that identifies the source of the material and any testing that was done to it
  • do not accept fill without any documentation

Take a look (or a smell) of the fill material

  • look for debris like ash, concrete/cement, nails and other construction debris, wood or paint chips, or plastic bits
  • look for stains or discolored areas
  • smell for petroleum/oil-like odors or for garbage like odors
Fill dirt next to a residence

DEP wants residents and contractors in Pennsylvania to make sure they do not accept or use fill materials that may contain or cause contamination. If you have questions, consult with your local Conservation District or DEP Office.

Always be sure you know where dirt and fill materials are coming from!

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