Past and current activities can cause local and diffuse contaminations to such an extent that they might threaten human health and the environment.
The hazards are very heterogeneous, reliable exposure and health data are sparse, most associations between industrially contaminated sites and health refer to conditions with multifactorial aetiology.
The underlying framework is complex since health, environment, economic, occupational and social aspects related to contaminated sites are strongly interconnected.
Disadvantaged populations are found to live near industrial and waste dumping sites with limited access to good quality green space.
Environmental and social inequalities are of particular concern when relate to vulnerable subgroups.
Emerging evidence from all over the world suggests that because of social (gender) and biological (sex) differences, boys and girls, women and men are affected by environmental factors in different ways, and their level of sensitivity differ.
Many initiatives on contaminated sites at the EU level have soil as the entry point.
Because of this, many rich and informative data exist on contaminated sites focusing on the soil component of contaminated media.
Due to the current voluntary principle for reporting on this issue by Member States, the available information is heterogeneous, with uneven spatial coverage. However, the steps undertaken by EU DG Environment, and DG Joint Research Centre (JRC), European Environment Agency (EEA), in refining data collection provide a good basis for acquiring more information.