There is evidence of centuries of industrial activity taking place in Burton upon Trent. Owing to the geological and hydrogeological characteristics of the area, the town became a major centre for the brewing industry within the UK. It is estimated that over 40 breweries were established here by 1880, and by the early 1900's, the brewing industry had become heavily reliant on rail for transporting the goods.
Contamination of land or water can occur due to activities carried out upon the land in the past. The presence of industrial sites, mining areas and waste disposal sites have the potential to cause various substances to contaminate the land and groundwater. These sites can contain heavy metals, hydrocarbons, asbestos, and they can also be sources of ground gases like methane or carbon dioxide.
Where a contamination source exists, it may have the potential to affect receptors (such as humans) if an exposure pathway is also present. Examples of pathways could be through direct exposure to contaminated soil, or by eating produce grown in contaminated soil. Where a source-pathway-receptor relationship is present, this is referred to as a ‘pollutant linkage’.
How harmful these substances are depends on their length of time within the environment, their ability to migrate through soil and water, their persistence, and their toxicity to humans or the environment.