Home>Discussions>YARD & GARDEN>testing for industrial pollution: is soil poison or ok?
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abaszaba
testing for industrial pollution: is soil poison or ok?

I have a small back yard on what used to be a historically heavily industrialized area. So I expect the soil to be full of PCBs and what-not. On the other hand, I know the previous owners had luck growing (and failed to die from eating) their own vegetables here. I'd like to plant a small garden, but am worried about bad (ie polluted) soil. How should I go about testing the various parts of the yard to find out where they may have brought in new soil, and where there's 100s of years of engine oil lurking?

timbo
Re: testing for industrial pollution: is soil poison or ok?

Since you suspect your backyard is contaminated, I would contact a local environmental laboratory about having it analyzed. You can collect either separate samples from different points in your yard or a composite sample where you mix soil together from different parts of the yard. I would collect soil from 6 inches below the surface or a foot or more if you think clean fill was placed on the property. I would have the soil tested for volatile organic compounds, semi volatile organic compounds, metals, total petroleum hydrocarbons, pesticides/ PCBs. The lab can supply you with glass jars for your samples. They will also give you a cost to run the analyses.

After you get the results, contact your local health department. They can give you an idea about whether it is a good idea to plant a vegetable garden or if you have significant contamination. Best of luck.

A. Spruce
Re: testing for industrial pollution: is soil poison or ok?

You should be able to get a test kit from your county extension office. They will then analyze the sample(s) for free or low cost.

abaszaba
Re: testing for industrial pollution: is soil poison or ok?

Great advice. thanks!

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