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Soil Testing: Heavy Metals (Lead)

Anyone who has a garden in an urban environment should test the soil for lead. Lead can be toxic at high concentrations. Contamination can occur from lead-based paint that chipped off old buildings (prior to 1978) and lead from auto emissions along busy streets. Lead is not presently used in paint and gasoline to any degree, but once lead has been deposited, it does not move much through the soil and can persist for a long time. If you live within the I-465 Interstate loop, test your soil for lead.

Lead Testing in Marion County

Free soil testing for lead is available from: Safe Urban Gardening Initiative, c/o Dr. Gabriel Filippelli, Department of Earth Sciences, IUPUI, 723 W. Michigan Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202.  Consult the Safe Urban Gardening Initiative: Lead Testing with Map and the Garden Safe Garden Well publication (see Related Files at bottom of page) for information on collecting a sample.

Residents of Marion County can also obtain soil testing for lead by contacting the Marion County Health Department (317-221-2155) for a fee.

Lead Testing outside Marion County: Out-of-county residents should contact their own county health department. Consult local government information for a telephone number. If needed, your Purdue County Extension office can direct you to the proper contact information. Professional soil testing labs can also test your soil for lead.

Garden Safe Garden Well (Department of Earth Sciences, IUPUI) - see Related Files at the bottom of this page

Gardening on Lead-Contaminated Soils (Kansas State University)

Gardening in Urban Soil (Minnesota Department of Health)

Lead Information (ISDH)

Lead Information (EPA)

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