The use of rapid on-site screening fits very well in to the process of pre-acquisitions of land. Often in the process of property purchases you need to make rapid decisions base on limited information. In these situations speed is of the essence in determining whether the land in question is the opportunity that it presents itself as or a nightmare scenario that will immerse you into a fraught situation of dealing with numerous environmental bodies and complying with disposal and cleanup criteria that will cut deep into your financial margins.
The main advantages to on-site analysis is the speed of the results, but you will also be free to increase the number of samples analysed and reassess your sampling strategy in real time as the results come through. This is because the per sample cost of analysis is low, once the chemist is on site you are free to increase your sampling density, and consequently decrease the chances of missing localised hotspots and increase the confidence in your decision. This is not possible when using a lab based strategy due to the time and per sample costs involved. For a small site an initial investment of under a £1000 will inform you the day of the testing if the site is contaminated with heavy metals or hydrocarbons. If other contaminants are suspected, these too can often be assessed on the day if requested.
NHBC guidance for the safe development of housing on land affected by contamination recommends that laboratory testing is carried out to a level of competency accredited by UKAS or MCerts. Whilst acknowledging and agreeing with the NHBC recommendation that on-site testing is validated using MCerts verified laboratory analysis, this is a time consuming process taking a week to 10 days. Often all that is required at the pre-acquisition stage is that you know what you are purchasing. At this