COLLINSVILLE, Ill. — Do you know if the soil in your backyard and garden is safe to use? Due to legacy contamination, soils in suburban and urban environments may contain heavy metals such as lead. Screening your soil for these heavy metals is the first step to ensuring the safety of those who benefit from using soils (gardeners, children, and even pets!).
Have your soil screened at no cost at the Soil Screening booth from the Department of Crop Sciences at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in collaboration with University of Illinois Extension on April 28, 2018.
Testing will be provided from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. at the F.R.E.S.H. Community Teaching Garden, 656 North 20th Street, East St. Louis, IL and from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the Granite City Art and Design District, 1400 20th Street, Granite City, IL.
Bring a soil sample from your garden or lawn to be tested on the spot for heavy metals by soil scientists at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Results and interpretation for your soil(s) will be provided by soil scientists. You will have the option to donate your soil to the Soil Screening team led by Dr. Andrew Margenot to help scientists understand potential soil contamination in Madison and St. Clair Counties. Testing is available to homeowners or community garden projects.
Please bring a dry, composite sample from your prospective or existing garden, lawn, or other space in sealable plastic bag to the event. The screening requires a soil sample of at least 1 cup (preferably 2 cups), and should be taken one week prior to the screening on April 28.
Here are the recommended steps to ensure that you receive accurate and relevant results:
Select 3-6 locations distributed across your area of interest (e.g., front lawn, back lawn, vegetable garden). Soil from these locations should be combined into a single “composite” sample. By combining several soils sampled for the area of interest you help ensure representative results can be obtained. If you wish to test different areas (e.g., front vs back lawn, particular sections of your garden, areas with suspect lead contamination next to buildings), take a composite sample for each area of interest.
1. Remove leaves, grass, leaves, twigs, and other fragments of organic material from the soil surface by brushing or gently raking.
2. Use a clean trowel or shovel to excavate a sample of soil to 4” depth and 4-6” diameter at each of the locations.
3. Combine the soils in a clean bucket or other recipient container.
4. Mix the soils thoroughly. Remove rocks and other debris, and allow the soil to dry (the screening analysis works best on dry soils).
5. Once dried, put 1-2 cups of the mixed soil sample into a sealable plastic bag. Bring this composite sample to the Soil Screening booth.
If you plan to submit more than one composite sample (e.g., front vs back yard), please identify each sample with a code to ensure organization of the screening results. Multiple samples will be accommodated for screening at the booth if time allows, or in a follow-up screening performed after the event. Look for additional soil screening events in 2018.
If you have questions about the soil screening, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call University of Illinois Extension at 618-344-4230. University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.
— University of Illinois Extension
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