CIEH endorses new generation of assessment criteria for contaminated land

Publication Date: 22nd December 2014

Subject: CIEH

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has joined again with leading consultancy Land Quality Management (LQM) in the launch this week of a new suite of generic assessment criteria (GACs) for contaminated land.

The third such suite the two organisations have collaborated on (the first in 2006, the second in 2009), the latest suite is also the largest, covering 89 potential contaminants. Explaining the CIEH`s continuing involvement, Principal Policy Officer Howard Price said: `Regulating land condition is a technically very complex task. Our members need authoritative guidance to help them but that needs, in turn, to be kept up-to-date and it`s time to replace the current GACs to reflect our increased knowledge of toxicology and further consideration of exposure scenarios. LQM is the UK`s leading provider of this data.`

As before, the development process utilised the skills of a large group of practitioners who came together in workshops led by LQM at the University of Nottingham`s Innovation Park and contributed on-line. `That so many busy experts gave their time freely in this way is an early vote of confidence in the project and its backers` said Price.

Once again (and in line with government SGVs) employing Health Criteria Values describing minimal risk, where the new criteria are exceeded, further detailed assessment will be needed to determine whether the land might be subject to enforcement action. Harm may, nevertheless, result from chronic exposures to soil contaminants below that point and though the values proposed are still not ‘no risk’, they also provide the means for Local Planning Authorities and responsible developers to confirm that land is suitable for use1 for the indefinite future. That is particularly important at a time when the government is trying to stimulate the re-use of `brownfield` land and there might be a temptation to cut back on remediation to reduce costs.

`In the case of non-threshold substances in particular, any less degree of health precaution would not be compatible with the ‘as low as reasonably practical’ principle and is, the CIEH believes, unacceptable` added Price.

`Like its predecessors, we are confident that this new set of ‘Suitable for Use Levels’ (S4ULs) will quickly gain currency as the ‘values of choice’ among practitioners in the public and private sectors alike, helping to protect public health and maintain home-buyers` peace of mind.`

1. It is a requirement of National Planning Policy that planning decisions should ensure sites are suitable for their new uses taking account inter alia of pollution and proposals for its remediation.

Note to editors: 

  • For media enquiries please contact Brian Cowan on 020 7827 5922 or 07721 456727 or email 

About the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH): 

  • The CIEH is the professional voice for environmental health representing over 10,000 members working in the public, private and non-profit sectors. It ensures the highest standards of professional competence in its members, in the belief that through environmental health action people's health can be improved
  • Environmental health has an important and unique contribution to make to improving public health and reducing health inequalities. The CIEH is working to ensure that both in support of government policy and in campaigning for necessary additional measures
  • The CIEH is a leading provider of regulated qualifications and operates in over 50 countries
  • 15Hatfields is the organisation’s sustainable events venue 
  • For more information visit 
  • Follow the CIEH on Twitter @The_CIEH 



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