Hawaii Department of Health

I have had a few dioxin soil projects in the last few months and each of the sites had surprising dioxin levels. The Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) has recently revised their Environmental Action Levels for dioxins and is currently dealing with dioxin sites throughout the State. Most of the dioxin soil issues are related to past use of pentachlorophenol and other pesticides in use at sugar cane and sugar cane plantation support sites.

An international symposium on dioxins is being held in Beijing, China in August of 2009. The 29th International Symposium on Halogenated Persistent Pollutants, August 23 – 29, 2009 is sponsored by the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Science. From their website (www.dioxin2009.org): Dioxin 2009 will offer an international interdisciplinary forum for the communication of the latest scientific advances in the study, analysis, and solution of environmental problems concerned with dioxins and other persistent organic pollutants. In addition to a comprehensive scientific program in several parallel sessions, there will also be a full social program.

Hawaii Soil Backgound Metal Data

Roger Brewer at the Hawaii Department of Health recently sent out the following message:

“We recently gave UH a contract to put together a summary of background metal data for soils in Hawai’i”

Roger posted some of the main references to HDOH’s ftp site at:


A login ID might automatically appear. If so, just use that one. If not, input “eha”. The password is “aloha”.

Look for the folder titled “RBrewer’s Folder” and then look in the subfolder called “Hawai’i Background Metals in Soil.” The documents are in this folder. To download a file just click on it and save it to your hard drive.

Roger also reported that “vanadium has been a big issue lately – Not because we’ve [HDOH] suddenly had lots of vanadium spills on the islands, but due to the fact that more people are requesting CAM 17 and ICP lab tests and vanadium is included on the reporting list. (Attached is a list of lab methods and associated metals suites that I put together for my own reference.) Fortunately someone found a paper published in 1961 on vanadium in Hawai’i soils. Natural background levels can easily exceed 500 or even 1,000 mg/kg in some of the volcanic soils, well above USEPAs direct-exposure RSL (“PRG) of 550 mg/kg and our direct-exposure action level of 110 mg/kg (1/5th of USEPA’s RSL). The vanadium is tightly bound to iron in the soil and not significantly bioavailable or toxic to animals or plants, however. Same for total chromium and probably a few other uncommon metals, even iron (not that I necessarily believe the iron toxicity factors…).”