In a study performed just this year, it was shockingly found that 40% of 203 sampled Sydney homes contained lead in garden soil above the Australian Health Guideline of 300mg/kg. As you can imagine, this presents a significant hazard because lead, if present in soil, can be absorbed into edible plants. Read on to discover when and how to test for lead contamination in your soil, and what to do if it’s found.
When You Should Test
The study found that lead contamination was most prevalent in pre-1970s homes that used paint dating back to that time period. Lead was also observed in areas that were previously (or currently) industrial. So, if your home is over 80 years old, in an industrial area, or you just have a ground-based garden, you should test.
Why You Should Test
Just in case it wasn't obvious, lead contamination is bad for you. The effects of ingesting lead for children can include brain development, lower IQs, as well as behavioural and emotional problems. Adults are also adversely affected. Studies show increased blood pressure and hypertension are caused by sub-clinical exposures.
How You Can Test
The LEAD Group recommends taking 6 to 12 subsamples from the area of concern. For playground areas, take subsamples as deep as a child could reasonably dig. Mix the subsamples thoroughly in a plastic pail, remove about a cup, and submit to your local NATA certified laboratory in a clean container. Alternatively, the LEAD Group has a Do-It-Yourself safe testing kit you can check out here
How To Prevent Contaminated Produce
For food-free soils, it's recommended a year-round lawn cover or mulch is maintained to minimise dust generation. For food growing soils, VegeSafe recommends replacing the existing soil with new, uncontaminated soil. Or, another alternative recommended is to use an above-ground garden plot (with new soil). We suggest our raised garden beds
with plastic containers. Not only will the container make sure your soil is lead and chemical free, it will also protect soil from nutrient leaching, other plants and weeds. What are your thoughts on the 2017 study? Are you going to test for lead contamination in your home? For more information on the issue, or if you’re interested in our raised beds contact us