Land contamination is usually the result of previous land usage(s) or may, in rare cases, be due to contaminants being present due to natural geological conditions. In certain circumstances land with a historical industrial usage has been known to pollute controlled waters, release potentially toxic or explosive gases, damage buildings and affect human health by the ingestion of or exposure to contaminated food / soil.
The words 'Contaminated Land' now have a specific legal definition. Under Section 78A (2) of Part 2A Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA) 'Contaminated Land' is defined as;
"Land which appears to the Local Authority to be in such a condition, by reason of substances in, on, or under the land, that significant harm is being caused, or there is a significant possibility of such harm being caused; or significant pollution of controlled waters is being caused, or there is a significant possibility of such pollution being caused."
"Harm" means harm to the health of living organisms or other interference with the ecological systems of which they form part and, in the case of man, includes harm to his property.