Working to address health hazards from contaminated land

Contaminated land is defined by the Ministry for the Environment as sites at which hazardous substances occur at concentrations above background levels and where assessment indicates it poses, or is likely to pose, an immediate or long-term risk to human health or the environment.

Land can become contaminated through the manufacture, use, storage and disposal of hazardous substances and while contamination is usually associated with industrial activities, the use of hazardous substances in agriculture can also cause contamination, as can residential activities and buildings.

People can become exposed to contaminants in soil through:

  • contact with the soil
  • soil ingestion
  • eating produce grown on contaminated land and
  • drinking contaminated ground or surface water
  • exposure by inhalation if a contaminant is volatile or dust is present.
The main pathways by which contaminants in soil can affect human health. Source: Ministry for the Environment.

Read a description of the infographic showing the main pathways by which contaminants in soil can affect human health.

The health risk associated with contaminated soil will depend on the type of hazardous substance, the exposure route and the length of time a person is exposed.

Community and Public Health works collaboratively with territorial local authorities and other agencies to ensure the public health effects of contaminated land are identified and risk assessed, so that the hazards can be isolated, decreased or remedied.

Community and Public Health also provides health information and advice on specific land contaminants, including lead (lead based paint) and asbestos (asbestos cement sheeting and other asbestos building products) and other hazardous substances. Health advice can also be given to persons who believe that they may have been exposed to other soil based contaminants.

Community and Public Health provides public health support to Environment Canterbury in matters related to the National Environmental Standard (NES) for managing soil contaminants.



Order resources from the Community Health Information Centre.


Contact your local CPH office for further information:

Ph: +64 3 364 1777
Fax: +64 3 379 6125

Ph: +64 3 687 2600
Fax: +64 3 688 6091

Ph: +64 3 768 1160
Fax: +64 3 768 1169

The Listed Land Use Register – what it means for your health

Your property is on the Listed Land Use Register (LLUR) if it has been a site where certain industrial activities took place or chemicals were used, stored or disposed of in the past.

Typical sites include former orchards and market gardens, landfills, timber treatment and other industrial sites identified by the Hazardous Activities and Industries List (HAIL).

This means it is possible that chemicals or hazardous substances are still present in your soil. Being on the Register does not mean your property is contaminated. It may be that the amount of chemicals or substances used was insignificant or have been removed, or that only a small part of your section was used.

Page last updated: 30/05/2017

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