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EESD15: Fundamentals of Site Remediation

The guide to library resources for the final assignment in EESD15

Types of Literature

Remember that this guide is just that - a guide.  The route you take to the information you will need will be different every single time.  Additionally, there are some extra tips that the guide provides that would be more relevant for smaller sites.

Textbooks and other formal literature

For this assignment the polluted sites are large enough and prominent enough that you should consider looking for books and textbooks for case studies (or entire books) about the site in question.  Many of them will also have papers in scholarly journals.

You can find more information on searching for academic literature here:


Newspapers may be useful for finding information about site history

Newspapers may also help you get some ideas about what major governmental and other organizations will be interested in the clean up.  Some questions you may ask include (but are not limited to):

  • What municipalities/provinces/states/countries are affected?
  • Did a specific NGO (non-governmental organization) get involved in clean up? What about government departments?
  • What companies or organizations caused the mess?

Grey Literature

Non-fiction exists in a range of academic rigor from peer-reviewed to popular.  In the middle of these two extremes is grey literature.  In general grey literature is information that has been generated with some level of academic rigor, but has not undergone a formal peer review.  Government Departments (there is a separate section on searching for government documents below) and NGOs all produce large quantities of grey literature.

Be especially alert for grey literature generated by organizations involved in the cleanup or assessment of the site.

Documentary Films often also fit in this category, and for large environmental messes there may be multiple Documentaries that have been released.  Pay special attention to the name and institutions of any experts consulted.

The following links are more oriented toward searching for grey literature in the health fields, but still have many useful tips and tricks.

Government Documents

A more in depth guide to finding government information:

Website for various government levels and their departments may have relevant information.  Consider:

  • Local Government (municipality, city, county, council, parish, etc.)
  • Provincial, Territorial, or State Government
  • National Government

For the larger two levels especially look for and then search within websites dedicated to the maintenance of the environment. 

Some examples include:

Many Provincial/State and National Government organizations maintain records of reclaimed sites.



The Canadian Soil Quality Guidelines usually contain information including but not limited to the following topics: natural occurrence, production and use, environmental fate and behavior, effects in various organisms, soil quality guidelines, and references.

In the librarian's office (EV 368, Environmental Sciences and Chemistry Building) there are copies of the Canadian Soil Quality Guidelines for various contaminants including:

  • vanadium
  • napthalene
  • lead
  • ethylene glycol
  • trichloroethylene
  • tetrachloroethylene
  • benzene
  • phenol
  • benzo(a)pyrene
  • arsenic
  • toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene
  • chromium
  • zinc
  • free cyanide
  • copper
  • inorganic mercury

These government documents may be used when the librarian is in her office.  You can drop by during office hours, make an appointment, or try dropping by the office without an appointment weekdays between 9:30 and 5:30 (if all you are trying to do is look at some of the books in the librarian's office I will let you do so without an appointment as long as I am there).


People as an information source

For this paper you should also strongly consider talking to people.  Ask your TAs if they know people who have worked in the industry or for an NGO that helped with cleanup.  Ask your librarian and profs.  Talk with family members about who they might know.

There is tons of information that sadly is never published or made publicly available, but people who were or are in industry know it.

If you find the name of an expert on a grey literature report, or an expert who was consulted in a documentary see if they have a professional website or blog.  Contact them and explain that you are a student and ask them questions!  They may have copies of grey literature or data that was not made public - or know exactly where to find the information you are looking for.