Australian Guideline on the Investigation Levels for Soil and Groundwater

This page contains tables detailing Soil and Groundwater Investigation Levels reproduced from Schedule B(1) Guideline on the Investigation Levels for Soil and Groundwater, part of the National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure, 1999. 

The source documents are available from the National Environment Protection Council web site as a series of 10 PDF files. It is strongly recommended that you obtain copies of these documents as they contain a great deal of information that is not reproduced here, including the legislative background to the tables and definitions of terms used. Tables are reproduced with the kind permission of NEPC

Superscripted links refer to the notes that follow the tables,

Table 5-A - Soil Investigation Levels (mg/kg)

Substances

Health Investigation Levels (HILs)

Ecological
Investigation
Levels (EILs)

Background
Ranges6

 
A1
B2
C3
D
E
F
REIL4
Interim
Urban5
METALS/METALLOIDS
Arsenic (total)
100                      400 200 500   20 1 - 50
Barium
              300 100 - 3000
Beryllium
20     80 40 100      
Cadmium
20     80 40 100   3 1
Chromium (III)
12%     48% 24% 60%   400  
Chromium (VI)
100     400 200 500   1  
Chromium (Total)*7 
                5 - 1000
Cobalt
100     400 200 500     1 - 40
Copper
1000     4000 2000 5000   100 2 - 100
Lead
300     1200 600 1500   600 2 - 200
Manganese
1500     6000 3000 7500   500 850
Methyl mercury
10     40 20 50      
Mercury (inorganic)
15     60 30 75   1 0.03
Nickel
600     2400 600 3000   60 5 - 500
Vanadium
              50 20 - 500
Zinc
7000     28000 14000 35000   200 10 - 300

Substances

Health Investigation Levels (HILs)

Ecological
Investigation
Levels (EILs)

Background
Ranges6

 
A1
B2
C3
D
E
F
REIL4
Interim
Urban5
ORGANICS
Aldrin + Dieldrin
10     40 20 50      
Chlordane
50     200 100 250      
DDT+DDD+DDE
200     800 400 1000      
Heptachlor
10     40 20 50      
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)   
20     80 40 100      
Benzo(a)pyrene
1     4 2 5      
Phenol
8500     34000 17000 42500      
PCBs (Total)
10     40 20 50      
Petroleum Hydrocarbon Components (constituents): 
C16 – C35 Aromatics8
90     360  180 450      
C16 – C35 Aliphatics 
5600     22400 11200 28000      
>C35 Aliphatics    
56000     224000 112000 280000      

Substances

Health Investigation Levels (HILs)

Ecological
Investigation
Levels (EILs)

Background
Ranges6

 
A1
B2
C3
D
E
F
REIL4
Interim
Urban5
OTHER
Boron
3000     12000 6000 15000      
Cyanides (Complexed)
500     2000 1000 2500      
Cyanides (free)
250     1000 500 1250      
Phosphorus
              2000  
Sulfur
              600  
Sulfate9
              2000  
1 Human exposure settings based on land use have been established for HILs (see Taylor and Langley 1998). These are:
A. 'Standard' residential with garden/accessible soil (home-grown produce contributing less than 10% of vegetable and fruit intake; no poultry): this category includes children's day-care centres, kindergartens, preschools and primary schools.
B. Residential with substantial vegetable garden (contributing 10% or more of vegetable and fruit intake) and/or poultry providing any egg or poultry meat dietary intake.
C. Residential with substantial vegetable garden (contributing 10% or more of vegetable and fruit intake); poultry excluded.
D. Residential with minimal opportunities for soil access: includes dwellings with fully and permanently paved yard space such as high-rise apartments and flats.
E. Parks, recreational open space and playing fields: includes secondary schools.
F. Commercial/Industrial: includes premises such as shops and offices as well as factories and industrial sites.
(For details on derivation of HILs for human exposure settings based on land use see Schedule B(7A).
2 Site and contaminant specific: on site sampling is the preferred approach for estimating poultry and plant uptake. Exposure estimates may then be compared to the relevant ADIs, PTWIs and GDs.
3 Site and contaminant specific: on site sampling is the preferred approach for estimating plant uptake. . Exposure estimates may then be compared to the relevant ADIs, PTWIs and GDs.
4 These will be developed for regional areas by jurisdictions as required.
5 Interim EILs for the urban setting are based on considerations of phytotoxicity, ANZECC B levels, and soil survey data from urban residential properties in four Australian capital cities.
6 Background ranges, where HILs or EILs are set, are taken from the Field Geologist's Manual, compiled by D A Berkman, Third Edition 1989. Publisher - The Australasian Institute of Mining & Metallurgy. This publication contains information on a more extensive list of soil elements than is included in this Table. Another source of information is Contaminated Sites Monograph No. 4: Trace Element Concentrations in Soils from Rural & Urban Areas of Australia, 1995. South Australian Health Commission.
7 Valence state not distinguished - expected as Cr (III).
8 The carbon number is an 'equivalent carbon number' based on a method that standardises according to boiling point. It is a method used by some analytical laboratories to report carbon numbers for chemicals evaluated on a boiling point GC column.
9 For protection of built structures.

Table 5-B Groundwater Investigation Levels

SETTING10

Aquatic Ecosystems11

Drinking Water

Agricultural 9

 
Marine Waters µg/L
Fresh Waters µg/L
Health10 / Aesthetic11 mg/L
Irrigation (mg/L)
Livestock (mg/L)
METALS/METALLOIDS
Aluminium
  <5 (if pH <6.5)

<100(if pH >6.5)

(0.2) 5.0 5.0
Antimony
  30 0.003    
Arsenic (total
50.0 50 0.007 0.1 0.5
Barium
    0.7    
Beryllium
  4   0.1 0.1
Boron
    0.3 0.5-6.0 5.0
Cadmium
2.0 0.2-2.0 0.002 0.01 0.01
Chromium (Total)
50.0 10   1.0  
Chromium (VI)
    0.05 0.1 1.0
Cobalt
      0.05 1.0
Copper
5.0 2.0-5.0 2.0 (1.0) 0.2 0.5
Iron
  1000 (0.3) 1.0  
Lead
5.0 1.0-5.0 0.01 0.2 0.1
Lithium
      2.5  
Manganese
    0.5 (0.1) 2.0  
Mercury (total)
0.1 0.1 0.001 0.002 0.002
Molybdenum
    0.05 0.01 0.01
Nickel
15.0 15.0-150.0 0.02 0.02 1.0
Selenium
70.0 5.0 0.01 0.02 0.02
Silver
1.0 0.1 0.1    
Thallium
20.0 4.0      
Tin (tributyltin)
0.002 0.008      
Vanadium
      0.1 0.1
Zinc
50.0 5.0-50.0 (3.0) 2.0 20.0

SETTING10

Aquatic Ecosystems11

Drinking Water

Agricultural 9

 
Marine Waters µg/L
Fresh Waters µg/L
Health10 / Aesthetic11 mg/L
Irrigation (mg/L)
Livestock (mg/L)
ORGANICS
1,2-dichloroethane 
    0.003    
Benzo(a)pyrene 
    0.00001    
Carbon tetrachloride 
    0.003    
Chlorobenzene
    0.3 (0.01)    
Dichloromethane (methylene chloride) 
    0.004    
Ethylbenzene 
    0.3 (0.003)    
Ethylenediamine tetracetic acid (EDTA) 
    0.25    
Hexachlorobutadiene 
0.3 0.1  0.0007    
Monocyclic aromatic compounds:
Benzene
300.0 300.0 0.001    
Chlorinated benzenes 
  0.007-15.012      
Chlorinated phenols   
0.2-8.0 0.05-18.013 0.04-1.5    
Phenol  
50.0 50.0      
Toluene  
  300.0 0.8 (0.025)    
Xylene 
    0.6 (0.02)    
Pesticides:
Footnote14 Footnote15  Footnote16    
Aldrin 
10.0 ng/L 10.0 ng/L 0.0003   See guidelines for raw water for drinking water supply (AWQG, ANZECC 1992)
Chlordane   
4.0 ng/L 4.0 ng/L 0.001  
DDT   
1.0 ng/L 1.0 ng/L 0.02  
Dieldrin 
2.0 ng/L 2.0 ng/L 0.0003  
Heptachlor  
10.0 ng/L 10.0 ng/L 0.0003  
Phthalate esters:
di-n-butylphthalate 
  4.0      
di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate 
  0.6      
other phthalate esters 
  0.2      
Polyaromatic hydrocarbons:
Polychlorinated biphenyls
0.004  0.001      
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons  
3.0 3.0      
Styrene (vinylbenzene) 
   

0.03 (0.004)

   
Tetrachloroethene 
    0.05    
Trichlorobenzenes (total) 
   

0.03 (0.005)

   
Vinyl chloride 
    0.0003    

SETTING10

Aquatic Ecosystems11

Drinking Water

Agricultural 9

 
Marine Waters µg/L
Fresh Waters µg/L
Health10 / Aesthetic11 mg/L
Irrigation (mg/L)
Livestock (mg/L)
OTHER
Calcium 
        1,000.0
Chloride
    (250.0) 30.0
700.017
 
Cyanide  
5 518  0.08    
Fluoride   
    1.5 1.0 2.0
Nitrate-N  
    50.0   30.0
Nitrite-N  
    3.0   10.0
AESTHETIC PARAMETERS
Colour and clarity 
<10% change in euphotic depth <10% change in euphotic depth      
10 Levels for recreational and industrial uses have not been set. For guidance on Recreational levels, see NHMRC/ARMCANZ, 1996. For recreational uses, toxic substances should, in general, not exceed the concentrations given for drinking water. For guidance on Industrial levels, see ANZECC, 1992. Industrial settings include: generic processes, hydro-electric power generation, textiles, chemical and allied industries, food and beverage, iron and steel, tanning and leather, pulp and paper, petroleum.
11 Taken from Australian Water Quality Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Waters (AWQG) (ANZECC 1992)
12 See table 2.8, p.2-49 AWQG (ANZECC 1992) for further information
13 see table 2.9, p2-50 AWQG (ANZECC 1992) for further information
14 see table 2.10 also, p.2-55 (ANZECC 1992) for further information
15 see table 2.10 also, p.2-55 (ANZECC 1992) for further information
16 see table on p32 (Guidelines for Pesticides), p32 (NHMRC/ARMCANZ 1996)
17 Maximum chloride concentration should be set according to the sensitivity of the crop. For further information. (See Tables 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, ANZECC 1992)
18 Incorrectly stated as 0.005 in the source document. This is the correct value as per the correction on the web site below

┬ž Source:┬áNational Environment Protection Council. 1999. National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure: Schedule B(1) Guideline on the Investigation Levels for Soil and Groundwater. (PDF). See also the Australian portal for environmental standards