2007 Volume 116 Issue 6 Pages 853-863
Recently, environmental problems caused by hazardous chemicals have become a great concern in terms of geo-pollution and soil contamination. Natural sources of heavy metals in soil and sediments are quite common in the subsurface environment in Japan, which has large metal deposits and geologic formations from marine strata. Background levels of As, Pb, Cd, and other toxic elements are relatively high in soil and sediments compared to other countries in Europe and Asia. This paper presents the features of heavy metals in soils, and the distribution and concentration of heavy metals in Japan in terms of soil and geo-pollution. We have developed a geo-informatics system with risk maps for heavy metals on a regional scale, based on the accumulated results of various geological and environmental surveys. The role of environmental geology is also discussed to propose remedial action for soil contamination, and to reveal the importance of risk management. The geo-environment risk assessment system, one of the outcomes of our research, can be used to reduce contamination due to heavy metals and toxic chemicals in soil using geo-environment information data. These research outcomes can also be applied to environmental problems such as ecological risk assessment, tunnel excavation in civil engineering, and land use policy in industrial location.