Any physical, chemical, biological, or radiological substance or matter that is in, on or under the
land and that has the potential to cause harm to human health or the environment.
Identification of contaminant spreading takes place with sampling, continuous monitoring and
modelling techniques. Spatial concentrations, temporal change, transformation and degradation
have to be examined for the focused area. This information outlines the type and method of the intervention,
but the standard limit values of contaminant concentrations also has to be considered to set the extent
of clean up.
Government regulation No. 219/2004. (VII. 21.) on the protection of the subsurface waters covers
both subsurface waters, geological media and contaminant. It also regulates those activities that
have an effect on the status of subsurface waters or geological media.
Contamination limit values are very important, because these indicate the targeted or classified
status of environmental elements. The limit value system had been established by adopting the Dutch
and Berlin lists.
In the Hungarian regulation, limit values are grouped according to the following categories:
(A) Background concentration: representative value; natural or close to natural concentrations
of determinants in subsurface waters and in soil.
(Ab) Proven Background concentration: these values are region and substance specific,
and different from the (A) ‘Background concentrations’. These are actual background concentrations
in sub-surface waters or in media defined by on-site measurements. These values indicate the present
background concentrations that were caused by either the natural characteristics of the area (e.g.:
elevated ammonia concentrations resulted from the genetics of rocks), or pollution sources (diffuse
and point source pollutions or pressures received through the surface waters-groundwater interactions)
other than what is the triggering cause of the present examination.
(B) Contamination limit value: such contaminant concentration or other quality state
indicators of ground waters or geological media defined in law, or in authority order (if law does
not regulates). If it occurs, the geological medium and subsurface water would be classified as ‘polluted’.
These limit values were set by considering (i) the requirements of drinking water quality, (ii) the
need of aquatic ecosystem, and in case of the geological media, (iii) the soil usage and sensitivity
of subsurface waters to pollution.
(D) Remediation limit value: this limit value defines what has to be achieved as a result
of the remediation to protect the human health and the ecosystem, and to prevent impairment of environmental
elements. It is defined by considering the complex assessments carried out during the remediation
actions and the land use patterns, by understanding the distribution, behaviour and spreading of
contaminants amongst environmental elements based on on-site measurements, modelling and quantitative
The remediation limit value (D) is defined by location specific risk assessment that investigates
the sensitivity, land use, etc. of the site. These values can be used in only one particular case.
The “K” classification of contaminants is very important to show the dangerousness of the contaminants.
This classification defines two risk groups. The “K1” group contains highly risky, whereas the “K2”
group lists risky contaminants.
The Hungarian regulation requires taking into consideration the measured maximum value. In case
of some materials, especially in case of soil, the sampling, preparation and analytical method affect
significantly the results; therefore, the Hungarian standards regulates the allowable analytical
Limit values are only provisional. Researches on the behaviour of contaminants produce new results
that have an impact on the judgement of the dangerousness of contaminants. For this reason, all such
limit value data sets have to be comprehensively and fully reviewed at every 5 years.
The basis of the integrated approach of environmental pollution is set in the European Commission
96/61/EC Directive (IPPC-Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control). This Directive obliges
all Member States to provide emission data on such pollutions sources that exceed the threshold limit.
Such data are collected in the EPER database (European Pollutant Emission Register). Hungary has
tentatively participated in the 2003 data submission activities. The next data submission is scheduled