Regular readers have probably already got this message, but right now we can’t repeat it enough. If there’s a lesson with our backyard lead scare , it’s to practice due diligence when beginning a garden –or better yet, when you buy property–and that means getting a soil test from a soil lab. They’re not that expensive, especially when you consider the high cost of remediation, and the well being of your self and your family.
Test soil for both nutrients and heavy metals when:
- Buying a house or land
- Starting to grow food in your yard
- Are growing food and have never tested
- Starting a plot in a community garden or a school garden
- Buying soil in bulk
Property does not have to be on the former site of gas station to be suspect. Lead contamination comes not only from lead paint on older houses, but was also deposited all over urban centers and near busy roads via a constant rain of fine particulates from auto emissions.
It really is a shame that lead testing is not a standard part of the inspection phase of home-buying, especially as this is a pervasive problem in urban areas.
Do companies that sell bulk soil test that soil for lead? A few phone calls Darren Butler made to local companies indicate that they don’t. So let the buyer beware here too. Wondering about bagged soils? Susan Carpenter, at the LA Times, tested a bunch and found no problems. She did find a possible lead link to fish fertilizer, however.
We’ve used all three of these services. UMass is the cheapest by far, but gives the least analysis. However, if you just want your lead level numbers, that’s not a problem.
In our next lead post we’ll let you know what our plan is. And we know there’s interest in all this, so over the week we’ll talk about remediation, raised beds, what’s dangerous, what’s edible, and more. Fun for all, guaranteed!