Chemical Parameters

List of potentially contaminating activities, industries & landuses

The following list is by no means exhaustive and is provided as a guide only. Consideration may be given to other activities not listed when determining the potential for a site to be contaminated.  Consideration should also be made of surrounding land uses. Where an activity has been undertaken at the site, the site is not necessarily contaminated but there is an increased risk of contamination being present.

Industry, Activity or Landuse

Common Contaminant Types


nutrients (e.g. nitrogen, phosphorous), Biological Oxygen Demand

agriculture / horticulture

organochlorine (OC) and organophosphate (OP) pesticides, carbamate pesticides, herbicides, polychorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel and zinc), nitrate and phosphate fertilisers, napthalene, chlorinated and fluorinated hydrocarbons


benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylenes (BTEX), petroleum hydrocarbons, zinc, cyanide, trichloroethylene (TCE), OCPs and OPPs

analysts, commercial analytical laboratory sites

solvents, acids, metals

asbestos production / use

asbestos fibres and dusts (tremolite, crocidolite, chrysotile)

asphalt or bitumen manufacture or bulk storage

total petroleum hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (e.g. creosote), monocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (e.g. benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene & xylene), metals (e.g. aluminium, chromium, lead, magnesium) solvents

automotive repair

solvents, total petroleum hydrocarbons, monocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (e.g. toluene, xylene, white spirit), phenol,  chloroflourocarbons, metals (e.g. copper, chromium, lead, zinc) alkalis, acids (e.g. sulphuric, hydrochloric)

battery manufacturing and recycling

metals (e.g. antimony, cadmium, cobalt, manganese, nickel, mercury, silver, lead, zinc) acids (e.g. sulphuric, hydrochloric)

boat building

metals (e.g. copper, chromium, mercury, lead, zinc) antifouling paints (e.g. organotin, tributyltin)

brake lining manufacturers

asbestos, copper


Alcohol (e.g. ethanol, methanol) nutrients (e.g. nitrogen, phosphorus) Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD)


fluoride, petroleum hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heavy metals

chemical manufacture / formulation

site history dependent, isopropyl benzene, xylenes, petroleum hydrocarbons, PAHs, acetone, methanol, dibromochloromethane, heavy metals (including tin), pH, organochlorines, phenols

defence establishments

site history dependent, nitrates, heavy metals, petroleum hydrocarbons, trinitrotoluene (TNT), bromochloromethane

detergent use

site history dependent, alkyl benzene sulfonates, benzene

drum re-conditioning

carbon tetrachloride, resins, toluene, diisocyanates, PCBs

dry cleaning

TCE, tetrachloroethane (PCE), vinyl chloride, carbon tetrachloride


acetanilide, aniline, anthracene, benzene, phenols, fluorene, acetone, TNT

earthworks involving imported fill soils

heavy metals, petroleum hydrocarbons, BTEX, OCPs and PCBs (PAHs when ash and/or slag materials are present)

electrical component manufacturing (batteries / computers / electroplating)

anthracene, acetone, aluminium, heavy metals (including cobalt and selenium), lithium, PCBs, pH

engine works

zinc, oil and grease, petroleum hydrocarbons

explosives / weapons manufacture

aniline, napthalene, toluene, TNT, pH, nitroglycerine, sulphur, nitrites, nitrates, heavy metals, petroleum hydrocarbons, trinitrotoluene (TNT), bromochloromethane

fertilizer manufacture or storage

calcium phosphate, calcium sulphate, copperchloride, sulphur, sulphuric acid, molybdenum, selenium, boron, cadmium, nitrates, ammonia

fibreglass reinforced plastic manufacturing

solvents, resins, styrene

foundry operations

Metals, (particularly iron, aluminium, copper, chromium, tin, nickel, lead, zinc and oxides) chlorides, fluorides and sulphates of these, acids, coke (PAHs),  fuel oil

fuel / oil production and storage (refineries / service stations)

BTEX, petroleum hydrocarbons, heavy metals (especially lead), oil and grease, sulphur, PAHs, PCBs

gas works

Cyanide, nitrate, sulphide/sulphate, metals, hydrocarbons, PAHs, phenols

landfill sites

site history / records dependent, pH, heavy metals, methane, sulphur, asbestos

market gardens

metals (e.g. cadmium, arsenic, copper, lead, mercury, magnesium, aluminium, iron) organochlorine (OC) and organophosphate (OP) pesticides, carbamate pesticides

metal finishing and treatments

metals (e.g. aluminium, barium, cadmium, copper, chromium, lead, nickel, tin, zinc) acids, alkalis, plating salts, monocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (e.g. benzene, toluene) chlorinated hydrocarbons, cyanide

mine sites

aluminium, heavy metals, cyanides, sulfates, pH

paint manufacture

heavy metals (including cobalt and titanium), TCE, toluene, xylenes, acetone, methanol, isopropyl alcohol, oils

pest control depots

Carbamates, organochlorins, organophosphates, herbicides, fungicides

pharmaceutical manufacture

acetanilide, pyrene, phenols, lithium, mercury, platinum, chloroform

photography and printing shops

Acids, alkalis, silver, solvents, nitrates, metals (chromium)

plastics manufacture

styrene, toluene, chloroform, ethylene, propylene, phthalates, heavy metals

power generators

arsenic, PCBs, thermal pollution, pH and alkalinity, suspended solids

railway yards

heavy metals, pH, sulfates

smelting / refining and steelworks

aluminium, fluoride, sodium, chlorine, cyanides, heavy metals, aniline, hydrocarbons, PAHs, slag

solvent use and manufacture

BTEX, phenols, isopropyl benzene, napthalene, nitrobenzene, methanol, TCE


tannin, chromium, ammonia, pH and alkalinity, oil and grease, suspended solids, phosphates

wood preservation

phenols, OCPs, copper, chromium, arsenic, tin (as tributyl tin oxide), creosote, pentachlorophenol, PAHs