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The MPCA studies, monitors, and regulates many land pollutants that affect the quality of life in Minnesota and the health of residents. Lands contaminated by improper handling or accidental spills of hazardous substances can pose threats to human health and the environment.

Hazards from land contamination can include:

  • Toxic chemicals leaching into nearby groundwater or surface waters and fouling drinking water supplies or harming aquatic plants and animals
  • Soil vapors contaminating indoor air in nearby buildings where certain types of chemicals have infiltrated into groundwater
  • Contaminated soil becoming wind-borne dust
  • People and wildlife breathing, ingesting, or touching contaminants where contaminated sites are not managed properly

Choose a pollutant below to learn where it comes from and its effects on human health and the environment, and monitoring and regulation information.

The main use of 1,4-dioxane was as a stabilizer for chlorinated solvent 1,1,1-trichoroethane (often used for industrial purposes). 1,4-dioxane can also be an unintended contaminant in the production of certain products, including some cleaners, detergents, adhesives, inks, automotive fluids, etc.

Heavy metals are an ill-defined group of inorganic chemical hazards including lead, chromium, arsenic, and cadmium.

Perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene (PCE or Perc) is an organic chemical used in dry cleaning, as a solvent and degreaser, in auto paint and auto repair shops, and in some consumer products.

Petroleum spills from pipelines, trains, trucks, storage tanks, and other sources have damaged natural resources throughout Minnesota.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of over 5,000 human-made chemicals that do not break down over time.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a class of more than 100 chemicals that occur naturally in coal, crude oil, and gasoline, and are also present in products made from fossil fuels, such as coal-tar pitch, creosote, and asphalt.

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a man-made chemical commonly found in wood finishes, glues and adhesives, paint or paint removers, and spot and metal cleaners. Exposure can have significant effects on human health. In June 2022, Minnesota became the first state to restrict most permitted uses of TCE.