Typical Contaminants at Industrial Properties

Typical Contaminants at Industrial Properties

Guide to Contaminants Found at Contaminated Industrial Properties

The following table identifies several activities that may have caused contamination at industrial properties. The table summarizes contaminants that are related to such activities and identifies sources for the contaminants; however, it is not an exhaustive list of contaminants that can be found at a site. Identifying contaminants that may be present should be determined on a site-by-site basis. Such a determination should be conducted thoroughly and carefully. Information for this table was compiled from several sources, including various EPA Guides to Pollution Prevention for selected industries. A list of the specific citations used follows the table. 

Past Activities Typically Conducted at Brownfields Sites Typical Contaminants and Typical Sources
Agriculture Volatile organic compounds (VOC); arsenic, copper, carbon tetrachloride, ethylene dibromide, and methylene chloride; pesticides; insecticides; herbicides; grain fumigants
Automotive refinishing and repair Some metals and metal dust; various organic compounds; solvents; paint and paint sludges; scrap metal; waste oils
Battery recycling and disposal Lead; cadmium; acids
Chloro-alkali manufacturing Chlorine compounds; mercury
Coal gasification Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)
Cosmetics manufacturing Heavy metals; dusts; solvents; acids
Dry cleaning activities VOCs such as chloroform and tetrachloroethane; various solvents; spot removers; fluorocarbon 113
Electroplating operations Various metals such as cadmium, chromium, cyanide, copper, and nickel
Glass manufacturing Arsenic; lead
Herbicide manufacturing and use Dioxin; metals; herbicides
Hospitals Formaldehyde; radionuclides; photographic chemicals; solvents; mercury; ethylene oxide; chemotherapy chemicals
Incinerators Dioxin; various municipal and industrial waste
Landfills-municipal and industrial Metals; VOCs; polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB); ammonia; methane; household products and cleaners; pesticides; various wastes
Leather manufacturing Toluene; benzene
Machine shops/metal fabrication Metals; VOCs; dioxin; beryllium; degreasing agents; solvents; waste oils
Marine maintenance industry Solvents; paints; cyanide; acids; VOC emissions; heavy metal sludges; degreasers
Munitions manufacturing Lead; explosives; copper; antimony
Paint/ink manufacturing Metals (such as chromium, cadmium, lead, and zinc); VOCs; chloroform; ethyl benzene; solvents; paints; inks
Pesticide manufacturing VOCs; arsenic; copper; pesticides; insecticides; herbicides; fungicides; xylene; chlorinated organic compounds; solvents
Petroleum refining and reuse Petroleum hydrocarbons; benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene (BTEX); fuels; oil and grease
Pharmaceutical manufacturing Lead; various organic chemicals; organic solvents
Photographic manufacturing and uses Silver bromide; methylene chloride; solvents; photographic products
Plastics manufacturing Polymers; phthalates; cadmium; solvents; resins; chemical additives; VOCs
Printing industry Silver; solvents; acids; waste oils; inks and dyes; photographic chemicals
Railroad yards Petroleum hydrocarbons; VOCs; BTEX; solvents; fuels; oil and grease; lead; PCBs
Research and educational institutions Inorganic acids; organic solvents; metals and metal dust; photographic waste; waste oil; paint; heavy metals; pesticides
Scrap metal operations Various metals (such as lead and nickel); PCBs; dioxin; transformers
Smelter operations Metals (such as lead, copper, and arsenic)
Semiconductor manufacturing Metals; VOCs; carbon tetrachloride; degreasing agents; solvents
Wood pulp and paper manufacturing Chlorinated organic compounds; dioxin; furans; chloroform; resin acids
Wood preserving Creosote; pentachlorophenol (PCP); arsenic; chromium; copper; PCB; PAHs; beryllium; dioxin; wood preservatives

List of Citations Used to Identify Common Contaminants

  • Contaminants and Remedial Options at Selected Metal-Contaminated Sites (EPA 540-R-95-512, PB95-271961)
  • Dry Cleaning and Laundry Plants, Fact Sheet (EPA 530-SW-90-027b)
  • Guidelines for Waste Reduction and Recycling: Metal Finishing, Electroplating, Printed Circuit Board Manufacturing, Hazardous Waste Reduction Program, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (No document number)
  • Guides to Pollution Prevention:
  • Research and Educational Institutions (EPA 625-7-90-010)
  • Selected Hospital Waste Streams (EPA 625-7-90-009)
  • The Automotive Refinishing Industry (EPA 625-7-91-016)
  • The Automotive Repair Industry (EPA 625-7-91-013)
  • The Commercial Printing Industry (EPA 625-7-90-008)
  • The Fiberglass-Reinforced and Composite Plastics Industry (EPA 625-7-91-014)
  • The Marine Maintenance and Repair Industry (EPA 625-7-91-015)
  • The Mechanical Equipment Repair Industry (EPA 625-R-92-008)
  • The Pesticide Formulating Industry (EPA 625-7-90-004)
  • The Pharmaceutical Industry (EPA 625-7-91-017)
  • Innovative Treatment Technologies: Annual Status Report (EPA 542-R-95-008)
  • Low-Level Mixed Waste: A RCRA Perspective for NRC Licenses (EPA 530-SW-90-057)
  • Pollution Prevention Technologies for the Bleached Kraft Segment of the U.S. Pulp and Paper Industry (EPA 600-R-93-110)
  • Solving the Hazardous Waste Problem: EPA's RCRA Program (EPA 530-SW-86-037)
  • Waste Minimization Audit Report: Case Studies of Minimization of Mercury-Bearing Wastes at a Mercury Cell Chloralkali Plant: Project Summary (EPA 600-S2-88-011)
  • Waste Minimization Opportunity Assessment: Philadelphia Naval Shipyard: Project Summary (EPA 600-S2-90-046)
  • Waste Reduction for the Aerospace Industry: Fact Sheet, California Department of Health Services Technology Clearinghouse (no document number)