Common Sources of Ground Water Contamination

Source Water Assessment & Wellhead Protection

Common Sources of Ground Water Contamination

Category Contaminant Source
  • Animal burial areas
  • Animal feedlots
  • Fertilizer storage/use
  • Irrigation sites
  • Manure spreading areas/pits
  • Pesticide storage/use
  • Airports
  • Auto repair shops
  • Boatyards
  • Construction areas
  • Car washes
  • Cemeteries
  • Dry cleaners
  • Gas stations
  • Golf courses
  • Jewelry/metal plating
  • Laundromats
  • Medical institutions
  • Paint shops
  • Photography establishments
  • Railroad tracks and yards
  • Research laboratories
  • Scrap and junkyards
  • Storage tanks
  • Asphalt plants
  • Chemical manufacture/ storage
  • Electronics manufacture
  • Electroplaters
  • Foundries/ metal fabricators
  • Machine/ metalworking shops
  • Mining and mine drainage
  • Petroleum production/ storage
  • Pipelines
  • Septage lagoons and sludge
  • Storage tanks
  • Toxic and hazardous spills
  • Wells (operating/ abandoned)
  • Wood preserving facilities
  • Fuel oil
  • Furniture stripping/ refinishing
  • Household hazardous products
  • Household lawns
  • Septic systems, cesspools
  • Sewer lines
  • Swimming pools (chemicals)
  • Hazardous waste landfills
  • Municipal incinerators
  • Municipal landfills
  • Municipal sewer lines
  • Open burning sites
  • Recycling/ reduction facilities
  • Road deicing operations
  • Road maintenance depots
  • Storm water drains/ basins
  • Transfer stations

Note: This table is a part of the U.S. EPA document: Protecting Local Ground-Water Supplies Through Wellhead Protection -- EPA 570/9-91-007. 



Commercial Sources

Auto Repair Shops:
Waste oils, solvents, acids, paint, waste hydraulic fluids, miscellaneous cutting oils

Construction Areas:
Asbestos, solvents, paints, glues, adhesives, lacquers, tars, sealants, epoxy waste, miscellaneous

Car Washes:
Miscellaneous chemicals, soap, detergents, waxes

Dry Cleaners:
perchloroethylene, petroleum solvents, reused spotting chemicals: trichloroethane, methyl chloroform, ammonia, peroxides, hydrochloric acid, rust removers, amyl acetate (residues from distillation put in garbage)

Gas Stations:
Oil, solvents, miscellaneous wastes

Medical Institutions:
X-ray developers and fixers (fixers and x-ray film contain reclaimable silver. Developer contains glutaraldehyde, hydroquinone, phenadone, potassium bromide, sodium sulfite, sodium carbonate. Fixer has thiosulfates and potassium alum. Infectious wastes, radiological wastes, biological wastes, miscellaneous chemicals, disinfectants, asbestos, beryllium, acids (from dentists)

Paint Shops:
paints, solvents, glues, miscellaneous

Photography Establishments:
Biosolids, silver sludges, cyanides, miscellaneous sludges


Industrial Sources

Electronics Manufacturing:
Cyanides, metal sludges, caustics (chromic acid), solvents, oils, alkalis, acids, paints, calcium fluoride sludges, methylene chloride, perchloroethylene, trichloroethane, acetone, methanol, toluene, PCBs, paint sludge

Foundries, Metal fabricator:
Paint wastes, acids, heavy metals, metal sludges, plating wastes, oils, solvents, explosive wastes

Machine, Metalworking Shops:
oils, solvents, metals, miscellaneous organics, sludges, oily metal shavings. Tool and die shops: lubricant and cutting oils, degreasers (TCE), metal marking fluids ("blueing"), mold release agents

Wood Preserving Facilities:
Treated wood residue and containers (use copper quinolate, mercury, sodium azide to control stains and fungus and use tanner gas to prevent lines from freezing), paint sludge, solvents, creosote, coating, and gluing wastes


Residential Sources

Furniture Stripping & Refinishing:
Paints, sludges, solvents, empty containers, degreasing sludges, solvent recovery sludges

Swimming Pool Chemicals:
Free and combined chlorine, bromine, iodine, algicides (mercury-based, copper-based, or quaternary), cyanuric acid, calcium or sodium hypochlorite, muriatic acid, sodium carbonate


Other Sources

Municipal landfills, highways, small quantities of chemical wastes, oils, etc.