Whether you've recently purchased a home near a cemetery or have shared a property line with these extra quiet neighbors for years, you may not give much thought to the effect of this cemetery on the quality of your water or soil. However, if you have well water or do a fair amount of gardening, it may be worthwhile to have your water and soil periodically tested in a process known as biological monitoring. Read on to learn more about some of the potential ecological effects you may experience on your cemetery-bordering property, as well as how biological monitoring may be able to help.
What are some of the environmental risks of living next to a cemetery?
In many ways, living next to a cemetery can be ideal. Other than the occasional interment ceremony or visitors, you'll likely enjoy peace and quiet most of the time -- and the rolling green hills or sedate mausoleums can be quite scenic. However, improperly-sealed vaults and other hazards can allow embalming fluid (often containing a lethal mix of formaldehyde and arsenic) to leach into the surrounding soil, while lead-lined vaults can allow this heavy metal to contaminate the ground water supply. Arsenic is an especial danger, as it doesn't naturally break down over time like many other poisons -- making the arsenic used to embalm a body in the early 19th century just as powerful (and dangerous) today.
These hazards aren't present in all cemeteries, but can pose a substantial risk to those living on adjoining parcels, particularly those with well water from a nearby aquifer or who grow homemade vegetables in a garden while dealing with a silent but serious arsenic contamination.
How can biological monitoring help you when you live next to a cemetery?
Biological monitoring involves the regular testing of soil and water at various points around your home to check for -- and potentially remediate -- contamination. By having this monitoring performed, you'll be able to ease any concerns about your soil or water quality if you find that there are no high concentrations of arsenic, lead, or other heavy metals. If you do discover that a portion of your property has higher-than-average arsenic levels as a result of your proximity to the cemetery, you can install a water filter that will remove this arsenic from your well water or even remove and replace a section of topsoil to eliminate this arsenic altogether.
For more information, contact DNL Environmental - DRG or a similar organization.