Should I test Test My Soil for Contaminants?

The quiz below can help garden managers identify possible sources of contaminants near the garden and recognize other risk factors associated with garden management practices.

This information may help you decide whether testing for specific soil contaminants might be necessary and will direct you to more resources on how to test your soils and interpret the results.

Did you know?
Soil nutrient testing—like the soil tests offered by Agricultural Extension services—do not test for possible soil contaminants like lead, arsenic, pesticide residue or other persistent chemicals. It is up to you to decide whether testing for soil contaminants may be necessary for your garden.


The following information may be helpful, but not required, to complete this assessment:

  • Knowledge of current and past land uses near your garden site
    • What were the previous land uses at your site?
    • What are the land uses of the land next to or near your garden site?
  • Knowledge of garden policies, management practices and garden characteristics
    • Who uses the garden?
    • What is the pH of your garden soil?
    • What kinds of soil amendments (compost, fertilizers, etc) do you use and where do they come from?

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