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soils testing on urban lots

  • Subject: [cg] soils testing on urban lots
  • From: Bill Maynard bMaynard@WoodRodgers.com
  • Date: Wed, 2 Oct 2002 13:39:02 -0700

What you don't know ...might hurt you....

As our 30 year old Mandella com garden site in sacramento has recently found

"some areas with higher than acceptable levels of Lead, DDT, and
PAH'S(polyaromatic Hydrocarbons left from the incomplete burning of gas,
coal, etc) were found."
The levels of lead that sacramento county deems acceptable is under 200
parts per million (some professionals say 80 is the highest lead should
be)... this site had 500 to 1300 parts per million....plus other toxins

the site had older homes from the 1860's on it before it was torn down back
in the 1960's  the garden started in the 1970's....apparently no testing was

As I understand it...the complete palette of soil tests (lead, heavy metals,
PCB's, PAH's, etc, etc) costs $700 per sample (many sites would require 12
or more samples....

Question 1:
are there any places that will do all these tests for free or low cost for
us community gardeners? 

Question 2:
How many urban gardens have had their soil tested for lead and other toxins?
and what levels did they find?

this will be a big issue in the sacramento area and will be the first HIGH
hurdle for each new com garden in the area. (we have approx 6 CG's proposed
in various stages in the long approval process)

In the mean time....

Each garden should ask itself: was the lot built on before?

Answer: Your local USDA office will have old aerial photos of your area back
to the 1930's and other photos taken every 10 years or so to the present...

Article was in oct 2 issue of the sacramento bee


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