Many different factors contribute to how an individual may be affected by contamination.

They include, for example, the type and concentration of the pollutant, how long someone was exposed to it, how much they were exposed to, and the status of someone’s general health to begin with.

Only suitably qualified medical professionals can advise how a particular contaminant may affect an individual’s health.

If you have any concerns that land or groundwater may be contaminated, you can:

  1. Get further information via EPA and other sources, such as the State Library of Victoria, historical aerial photos, local historical societies, historic land titles, council rates records, Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works plans and the Victorian Heritage Database
  2. Speak with an experienced environmental consultant.

If you have any health concerns regarding potential contamination, see your doctor.

Not all land affected by contamination may pose a risk to human health or the environment.

You may wish to test for contamination if there are signs of 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 may also wish to test for contamination where you have knowledge of a past use that indicates contamination may be present. The Historical Business Listings included in Victoria Unearthed do not provide definitive evidence of actual land use.

If you are concerned about the suspected presence of contamination on your land, you may wish to contact a qualified and experienced environmental consultant who may provide you with a site investigation and health risk assessment.

If you have any health concerns that you think may be related to contamination, you may wish to see your doctor.

Testing for contamination

If you are concerned about the suspected presence of contamination on your land, you may wish to contact a qualified and experienced environmental consultant who may provide you with a site investigation and health risk assessment. In the meantime, you may wish to minimise contact with land suspected of being affected by contamination.

Do:

  • wash hands frequently
  • wash children’s toys frequently
  • wash all fruit and vegetables to remove affected soil and dust before eating
  • wash family pets often
  • mop affected areas, and dust frequently using a damp cloth
  • place mats at the front and back doors to prevent affected soil being walked through the house
  • leave shoes outside, where possible
  • if you suspect land is affected by contamination have it tested to ensure it is suitable for use

Don't:

  • let children play on land you suspect of being affected by contamination
  • let young children put affected soils in their mouths
  • use affected soils in landscaping works
  • keep chicken and poultry on land you suspect of being affected by contamination
  • swim or fish in water you suspect of being affected by contamination
  • eat fish or yabbies from water you suspect of being affected by contamination

Children may have a greater risk of exposure to contamination than adults because they may crawl and play close to the ground, have more frequent hand-to-mouth contact, and are more likely to put toys, soil or other non-food items in their mouths.

If you have any health concerns that you think may be related to contamination, please see your doctor.

  • Use raised planter boxes and fill with certified clean soil purchased from a reputable retailer.
  • Alternatively, choose a spot for your veggie garden, dig out the top half a metre of soil and dispose at an appropriately licenced landfill. Lay an impervious material such as high-density polythene or polyethylene sheeting and backfill with certified clean soil purchased from a reputable nursery or landscape supply store.
  • Wash all home-grown produce thoroughly prior to consumption.
  • Get your soil tested. Macquarie University runs a soil metal testing program called VegeSafe, you can submit up to five soil samples for metals analysis, information is provided on their website regarding correct sampling techniques. However, keep in mind that VegeSafe only tests for some common contaminants and will not determine if your soil is free of all suspected contamination.

Asbestos is a known contaminant that is a potential health risk when airborne asbestos fibres are inhaled.  A person's chance of developing asbestos-related disease depends on how much asbestos they were exposed to and for how long.

The management, removal and disposal of asbestos is highly regulated in Victoria. To find out more, visit EPA website or asbestos.vic.gov.au.

For landfill serving a population of more than 500 people, a works approval must be obtained from the EPA before it can be constructed. A works approval includes an assessment of measures to protect human health and the environment. An EPA licence is required for all landfills, apart from municipal landfills serving a population of fewer than 5000 people. The licence sets the performance objectives for the operating landfill, defines operating parameters and requires monitoring to check on environmental performance.

Victorian Landfill Register

Page last updated: 28/08/19