Should I test Test My Soil for Contaminants?

Should I test my soil for contaminants?

Our gardener decision tool, Check Your Dirt NC!, 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 to test your soil for specific contaminants and will direct you to more resources on how to test your soils and interpret the results.

Check out the tool, which was co-developed with the NC State Extension Gardener Program, by clicking this link:

Soil Testing Services

Did you know?
Soil nutrient tests—like the soil tests offered by Agricultural Extension services—do not test for soil contaminants like lead, arsenic, pesticide residues or other persistent chemicals.

Testing Services for Nutrients and pH: NC Department of Agriculture: Basic soil testing is offered for free to North Carolina residents for most of the year (a peak season fee of $4 is added for each sample submitted December 1- March 31). Remember that this service does not include soil contaminant testing. Your results will not say anything about soil contaminants, but they could still be present in your soil.

More information about testing can be found here. To find your local NC State Extension County agent, check here.

Testing Services for Chemical Soil Contaminants

This page used to provide a list of commercial labs that offer soil contaminant testing, but because these businesses frequently change their services, their names, or go out of business, maintaining this list no longer seemed practical.

We recommend searching on the internet for “soil contaminant testing” or searching for the specific contaminants you are interested in along with “soil testing.” From there you should see various commercial labs where you can investigate further and ask for a quote on testing costs.

Lastly, the Cornell Soil Health Laboratory does offer relatively affordable soil testing for various heavy metals. They are often a good alternative to commercial labs if you are interested in testing for metals: