Determination of the potential implementation impact of 2016 ministry of environmental protection generic assessment criteria for potentially contaminated sites in China

Original Paper


The Ministry of Environmental Protection of China issued a 3rd draft edition of risk-based Generic Assessment Criteria (the MEP-GAC) in March 2016. Since these will be the first authoritative GAC in China, their implementation is likely to have a significant impact on China’s growing contaminated land management sector. This study aims to determine the potential implementation impact of the MEP-GAC through an in-depth analysis of the management context, land use scenarios, health criteria values adopted and exposure pathways considered. The MEP-GAC have been proposed for two broad categories of land use scenarios for contaminated land risk assessment, and these two categories of land use scenarios need to be further delved, and a MEP-GAC for Chinese cultivated land scenario ought to be developed, to ensure human health protection of Chinese farmers. The MEP-GAC have adopted 10−6 as the acceptable lifetime cancer risk, given the widespread extent and severe level of land contamination in China, consideration should be given to the decision on excess lifetime cancer risk of 10−5. During risk assessment process in practice, it is better to review the 20% TDI against local circumstances to determine their suitability before adopting it. The MEP-GAC are based on a SOM value of 1%, for regions with particularly high SOM, it might be necessary to develop regional GAC, due to SOM’s significant impact on the GAC developed. An authoritative risk assessment model developed based on HJ25.3-2014 would help facilitate the DQRA process in practice. The MEP-GAC could better reflect the likely exposures of China’s citizens due to vapour inhalation by using characteristics of Chinese exposure scenarios, including China-generic building stock, as inputs into the Johnson and Ettinger model as opposed to adoption of the US EPA parameters. The MEP-GAC once implemented will set the trajectory for the development of the investigation, assessment and remediation of land contamination for years.


Contaminated sites Generic assessment criteria The MEP-GAC Land use scenario China Risk-based land management 



This study was sponsored by the Scientific Research Foundation for the Returned Overseas Chinese Scholars, State Education Ministry and Suzhou University of Science and Technology (Project code: XKQ201416).

Supplementary material

10653_2017_9953_MOESM1_ESM.docx (122 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 121 kb)


  1. BSI. (2013). BS 10175:2011+A1:2013 Investigation of potentially contaminated sites. Code of practice.Google Scholar
  2. CCTV. (2013). China will gradually postpone retirement age. China Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, China.
  3. Cheng, Y., & Nathanail, P. C. (2009). Generic Assessment Criteria for human health risk assessment of potentially contaminated land in China. Science of the Total Environment, 408(2), 324–339. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.09.021.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. China National Environmental Monitoring Center. (1994). The atlas of soil environmental background value in the People’s Republic of China. (C. Zheng, Ed.). Beijing, China: China Enviromental Science Press.Google Scholar
  5. Chinese MEP. (2014). Technical guidelines for risk assessment of contaminated sites (HJ25.3-2014, published in Chinese). Beijing, China.Google Scholar
  6. Chinese MEP. (2015). Risk screening guideline values for soil contamination of development land (2nd draft ed.). Beijing: Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection.Google Scholar
  7. Chinese MEP. (2016a). Risk screening guideline values for soil contamination of development land (3rd draft edition). Beijing, China.Google Scholar
  8. Chinese MEP. (2016b). Supplemental guidance for developing risk screening guidelines (published in Chinese) 3rd draft edition. Beijing, China.
  9. CL:AIRE. (2013). Development of category 4 screening levels for assessment of land affected by contamination. SP1010. Contaminated Land: Applications in Real Environments.Google Scholar
  10. Coulon, F., Jones, K., Li, H., Hu, Q., Gao, J., Li, F., et al. (2016). China’s soil and groundwater management challenges: Lessons from the UK’s experience and opportunities for China. Environment International, 91, 196–200. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2016.02.023.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. DEFRA. (2006). Assessing risks from land contamination: A proportionate approach. Soil guideline values: The way Forward. London: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.Google Scholar
  12. DEFRA. (2008). Guidance on the legal definition of contaminated land. London.
  13. DEFRA and Environment Agency. (2002). Soil guideline values for inorganic mercury contamination. R&D Publication SGV5. Bristol: Environment Agency.
  14. DEFRA and Environment Agency. (2004). Model Procedures for the Management of Land Contamination. Bristol: Environment Agency.
  15. DEFRA and Environment Agency. (2005). Soil guideline values for benzene contamination. R&D Publication SGV12. Bristol: Environment Agency.
  16. Environment Agency. (2009a). Human health toxicological assessment of contaminants in soil. Science reportfinal SC050021/SR2. Bristol: Environment Agency.Google Scholar
  17. Environment Agency. (2009b). Updated technical background to the CLEA model. SC050021/SR3. Bristol: Environment Agency.Google Scholar
  18. Environment Agency. (2009c). Contaminants in soil: Updated collation of toxicological data and intake values for humans Phenol. Bristol.Google Scholar
  19. Environment Agency. (2009d). CLEA software (Version 1.04) handbook. Accessed 19/01/2009. Science Report SC050021/SR4. Bristol: Environment Agency.
  20. Ferguson CC (1993) Soil guideline values in the UK. In F. Arendt, G. J. Annokkee, R. Bosman, & W. J. Van denBrink (Eds.), Contaminated Soil’93. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publisher.Google Scholar
  21. Ferguson, C., Darmendrail, D., Freier, K., Jensen, B. K., Jensen, J., & Kasamas, H., et al. (1998). Risk assessment for contaminated sites in Europe volume 1 scientific basis. Nottingham: LQM Press.Google Scholar
  22. Ferguson, C., Nathanail, C. P., McCaffrey, C., Earl, N., Foster, N., Gillett, A., & Ogden, R. (2003). Method for deriving site-specific human health assessment criteria for contaminants in soil.Google Scholar
  23. Haney, J. (2015). Consideration of non-linear, non-threshold and threshold approaches for assessing the carcinogenicity of oral exposure to hexavalent chromium. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 73(3), 834–852. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2015.10.011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hers, I., Zapf-Gilje, R., Johnson, P. C., & Li, L. (2003). Evaluation of the Johnson and Ettinger model for prediction of indoor air quality. Ground Water Monitoring and Remediation, 23(1), 62–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Johnson, J. E., Sun, Q., & Gibson, J. M. (2014). Updating exposure models of indoor air pollution due to vapour intrusion: Bayesian calibration of the Johnson-Ettinger model. Environmental Science and Technology, 48, 2130–2138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lijzen, J. P. A., Baars, A. J., Otte, P. F., Rikken, M. G. J., Swartjes, F., Verbruggen, E. M. J., & Wezel, A. P. (2001). Technical evaluation of the intervention values for soil/sediment and groundwater human and ecotoxicological risk assessment and derivation of risk limits for soil, aquatic sediment and groundwater. Research forMan and Environment (RIVM).
  27. MLSS. (1999). Circular on prevention and control of early retirement of enterprise employees issued by Ministry of Labour and Social Security (in Chinese). Ministry of Labour and Social Security of the People’s Republic of China (MLSS).Google Scholar
  28. Nathanail, C. P. (2006). Generic and site-specific criteria in assessment of human health risk from contaminated soil. Soil Use and Management, 21, 500–507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Nathanail, C. P., & Bardos, R. P. (2004). Reclamation of contaminated land. West Sussex: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nathanail, C. P., & Earl, N. (2001). Human health risk assessment: Guideline values and magic numbers. Environmental Science and Technology, 16.Google Scholar
  31. Nathanail, J., Bardos, P., & Nathanail, P. (2002). Contaminated Land Management: Ready Reference. Nottingham, London: Land Quality Press and EPP Publications Limited.Google Scholar
  32. Nathanail, P., McCaffrey, C., Ashmore, M., Cheng, Y. Y., Gillett, A., Hooker, P., et al. (2007). Generic assessment criteria for human health risk assessment. Nottingham: Land Quality Press.Google Scholar
  33. Nathanail, P., McCaffrey, C., Ashmore, M., Cheng, Y. Y., Gillett, A., Hooker, P., et al. (2009). The LQM/CIEH generic assessment criteria for human health risk assessment (2nd ed.). Nottingham: Land Quality Press.Google Scholar
  34. Nathanail, C. P., McCaffrey, C., Gillett, A. G., Ogden, R. C., & Nathanail, J. F. (2015). The LQM/CIEH S4ULs for human health risk assessment. Nottingham: Land Quality Press.Google Scholar
  35. Paustenbach, D. J. (1989). A survey of health risk assessment. In D. J. Paustenbach (Ed.), The risk assessment of environmental hazards: A textbook of case studies. Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
  36. RIVM. (2001). Technical evaluation of the intervention values for soil/sediment and groundwater, human and ecotoxicological risk assessment and derivation of risk limits for soil, aquatic sediment and groundwater. RIVM report 711701 023. Bilthoven: National Institute of Public Health and The Environment.Google Scholar
  37. US EPA. (1996). Soil screening guidance: technical background document. EPA/540/R-95/128. Washington, DC: Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.Google Scholar
  38. US EPA. (1997). User’s guide for the Johnson and Ettinger (1991) Model for subsurface vapor intrusion into buildings. Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  39. US EPA. (2002). Supplemental guidance for developing soil screening levels for superfund sites. OSWER 9355.4-24. Washington, DC: Office of Emergency and Remedial Response U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.Google Scholar
  40. US EPA. (2016). Regional screening levels (RSLs): Generic Tables (May 2016). Risk assessment regional screening levels. Accessed 1 April 2017
  41. VROM. (2000). Circular on target values and intervention values for soil remediation. DBO/1999226863. Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment (VROM).Google Scholar
  42. WHO. (2003). Concise international chemical assessment document 50. Elemental Mercury and Inorganic Mercury Compounds: Human Health Aspects. Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  43. WHO. (2010). WHO guidelines for indoor air quality: selected pollutants. Bonn, Germany: In puncto druck+ medien GmbH, 484. doi: 10.1186/2041-1480-2-S2-I1
  44. Yao, Y., Shen, R., Pennell, K. G., & Suuberg, E. M. (2011). Comparison of the Johnson-Ettinger vapor intrusion screening model predictions with full three-dimensional model results. Environmental Science and Technology, 45, 2227–2235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environmental Science and EngineeringSuzhou University of Science and TechnologySuzhouChina
  2. 2.School of Geographical Sciences, Faculty of Science and EngineeringThe University of NottinghamNingboChina
  3. 3.School of GeographyUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK

Personalised recommendations