Effects on health

Find out what it could mean for your family if your land has been identified as having previous hazardous uses.

family planting tree

Key information

Is my health likely to be affected?

Just because your land is included on the Listed Land Use Register because of the potential for contamination, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is contaminated. There is also every possibility that the hazardous activity on your property may have only occupied a small area, thereby reducing the risk further.

The health risk associated with contaminated soil generally depends on three things:

  • the type of hazardous substance
  • the exposure route
  • the length of time a person is exposed.

The Canterbury District Health Board advises that everyone with a garden, whether or not the property is on the Listed Land Use Register, should follow some common sense precautions to minimise potential health risks. This guidance is provided here.

If you follow the health board’s precautions, the risk of exposure to contaminants in soil is likely to be low. You may like to change the way you use your garden, or you can opt to pursue a detailed site investigation (see Testing for Contamination section for more detail). Your risk may be higher if:

  • you eat the eggs of your free range chickens
  • you grow and eat root vegetables in ground-level gardens (not raised beds)
  • young children play in and may eat your garden soil.
Who can give me more information about effects on human health?

Visit Community and Public Health  for more information.

ContamLand also has basic general information on how to minimise exposure to contaminants in soil.

Is my water safe to drink?

If you get your water from town reticulated water supply, rest assured that it is usually sourced from deep underground, is tested regularly and meets the New Zealand Drinking Water Standards.

If you have a bore or well on your property for drinking water or irrigation, you may wish to get this tested if you have any concerns. Standard drinking water tests will not be suitable to tell if there is any risk of contaminants in the water that have come from a hazardous activity.  For advice on what you should have your drinking water tested for, please contact us or ask your contaminated land specialist.

How can I prevent contamination in the future?

Hazardous substances and hazardous wastes need to be carefully managed to prevent contamination. We can minimise the effects of hazardous substances in our environment by:

  • only using hazardous substances when absolutely necessary
  • applying safe practice when using and storing hazardous substances
  • transporting hazardous substances safely
  • disposing of hazardous substances correctly.