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Sci Total Environ. 2006 Nov 1;370(2-3):360-71. Epub 2006 Sep 7.

Mass transfer of soil indoors by track-in on footwear.

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Upstate New York Specialist Environmental Consulting, UNYSPEC, P.O. Box 91, Baldwinsville, NY 13027, USA.


Inadvertent soil ingestion, especially by young children, can be an important route of exposure for many environmental contaminants. The introduction of exterior soil into the interior environment is a significant element of the exposure pathway. The unintentional collection of outside soil on footwear followed by subsequent deposition indoors is a principal route of soil ingress. Here we have investigated likely rates of dry and wet soil deposition on indoor hard surface flooring as a result of mass transfer from soiled footwear. In this pilot study, testing involved both single track-in events (with deposition resulting from a single progression of transfer steps) and multiple tracking actions (with deposition and dispersion resulting from repeated transfer steps). Based on soil mass recovery from the floor surface it was found that any contamination introduced by one-time track-in events was of limited spatial extent. In contrast, under repeated tracking conditions, with multiple soil incursions, widespread floor surface contamination was possible. Soil mass recovery was accomplished by brushing, by vacuum cleaner removal and by wet wiping. All the clean-up methods operated imperfectly and failed to remove all initially deposited soil. The level of floor surface soiling that resulted from the track-in tests, and the incomplete clean-up strongly suggest that under unrestricted transfer conditions rapid accumulation and dispersal of soil on indoor flooring is likely.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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