Contaminated land
Put simply, contaminated land is land containing substances 
at levels that would not normally be present. These substances
may be trace elements, organic compounds, gases such as
carbon dioxide or methane, or even plant nutrients like
nitrogen or phosphorous. The presence of these substances
at elevated levels may, or may not, be harmful. However,
contaminated land is most often used to describe land where
there is at least a suspicion that the contamination could
be harmful to humans, water, buildings, or ecosystems.
Countries may have specific legal definitions of contaminated
land.
Land contamination of a urban or rural zone in an active or 
abandoned industrial site, can result of deliberate or
accidental release or disposal of substances in, on or under
the land.
The introduction of organic or metallic contaminants
in the soil may result in damage to or loss of some or several
functions of soils and possible cross contamination of
water. The occurrence of contaminants in soils above certain
levels entails multiple negative consequences for the
food chain and thus for human health, and for all types of
ecosystems and other natural resources.
To assess the potential impact of soil contaminants,
account needs to be taken not only of their concentration
but also their environmental behaviour and the exposure
mechanism for human health. A distinction is often made
between soil contamination originating from clearly confined
sources and that caused by diffuse sources.
Click for Technical Summary

Policy and regulatory information
European Union
Denmark
France
Germany
Hungary
Italy
UK
National information
European Union
Denmark
France
Germany
Hungary
Italy
UK

<< Back to library