There are a range of ways to test for contamination in Victoria.

In general, only qualified and experienced environmental consultants should test for contamination. They make assessments of the likely contaminants of concern and can request appropriate chemical analysis from a laboratory.

Environmental consultants can undertake preliminary and/or detailed site investigations. Preliminary investigations may include looking at site history and past land use, while detailed site investigations may include soil and groundwater testing.

Householders can undertake less detailed testing for specific types of contamination. One low-cost example is testing backyard soil through VegeSafe, where people can send in samples of their soil and have it tested for metals. This program only tests for metals, not other possible contaminants.

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You may wish to consider having soil or groundwater samples analysed in the following circumstances:

  • There are signs of potential contamination in soil, for example, unusual odours or staining, bare patches of lawn/limited plant growth, the presence of metal pipes, solder, paint flecks, ash or fragments of fibre cement sheeting.
  • You are concerned about the potential for contamination resulting from past land uses or activities.
  • You have a groundwater bore and rely on this water for household purposes.
  • As part of the due diligence process when buying and/or selling property if you have reason to suspect there may be land or groundwater contamination.

In general, only qualified and experienced environmental consultants should test for contamination. They make assessments of the likely contaminants of concern and request appropriate chemical analysis from a laboratory.

Soil and groundwater samples should be analysed by a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratory.

Householders can undertake less detailed testing for specific types of contamination. One low-cost example is testing backyard soil through VegeSafe, where people can send in samples of their soil and have it tested for metals. The testing costs approximately $20 for up to five samples. This program only tests for metals, not other potential contaminants.

The National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure outlines the process for assessing sites throughout Australia. It includes information about preliminary and detailed site investigations.

Contamination testing costs can vary significantly based on a range of factors, including the type of contaminants being tested for, and the number and location of samples needed.

Some community programs offer specific testing for a small fee. For example, you can get the concentrations of metals in your garden soil tested through the VegeSafe soil metal testing program operated by Macquarie University. The testing costs approximately $20 for up to five samples. This program only tests for metals, not other potential contaminants.

You may also obtain quotes from qualified and experienced environmental consultants or a NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities) accredited chemical analysis testing laboratory.

Page last updated: 14/03/19