The natural environment, including products derived from it such as food and water, can be subject to contamination from agriculture and industry.
This has always been the case since chemicals have been employed to improve agricultural yields, control pests or in the manufacture of industrial products. Although a great deal has been done over the past half century to ameliorate such contaminations through improvements to practices and regulations governing the use and discharge of chemicals, contamination still occurs.
This review seeks to provide an overview of the sources of contamination from both historic and current practices. By its nature, such a review cannot cover all potential sources but will use examples of how contaminations have been identified and dealt with. Past instances such as the consequences of the use of pesticides and fertilisers will be discussed briefly as will contamination from major industries such as mining, petrochemicals and automotive. The review will also consider possible contaminations from the use of modern practices such as 'fracking', nanotechnology and the use of waste materials as agricultural fertiliser that can lead to a range of potentially hazardous waste materials being discharged in to the environment and which may contaminate food and water.