Lead Testing for Urban Agriculture

If you would like your IMG_6070soil tested for toxins (lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, etc.) you can send it to the Lead Safe America Foundation (or bring it by our office) and we will test it for free.  If you are sending it, please include return postage if you would like it returned.  If you are bringing it by  – please text first to make sure we are in the office: 415-609-3182 (regular office hours are 9:30 to 3:15, M-F  – with some nights and weekends too.)

Our address:

Lead Safe America
6637 SE Milwaukie Ave, Suite 203
Portland, OR 97202

Here are instructions for preparing soil samples for us to test:

  1. Each sample should be put in a plastic zip-lock style sandwich baggie,
  2. A separate empty plastic bag should be sent (from the same box of bags) to be tested as a “control” so we can make sure there is no lead in the baggie as we will be testing through the baggie.
  3. Each sample should be labeled with information including: soil source location (examples: “back yard”, “side garden”, “front raised bed”), collection time, collection date and your last name (especially if you are mailing them.) Labels can be easily done with a piece of masking tape that you write on with marker.
  4. Soil samples should be taken using a teaspoon, clean the spoon off between each sample or use a different spoon for each sample.
  5. Take a shallow spoonful of soil if at all possible – do not scoop into the earth – but instead skim from the top 1/4 inch of soil to get your full teaspoon (a little more than a teaspoon is fine.)
  6. If you want to send a sample of sod/ grass patch that is intact, that can also be tested (and it is easy to test the top surface levels if the grass remains intact on the sample) – a 2 inch square is fine.

We are not an accredited lab and test results are provided for informational purposes only.  If you need certified test results (for a legal case or other reason) we suggest you follow up any testing we may do with official accredited lab testing.

We use a Niton XRF from Thermo Fisher Scientific for our testing and testing is done by an individual who is trained and certified in using the instrument.  We generally give test results in parts per million (ppm) readings, unless otherwise requested.  We are happy to provide you with a simple letter stating we did the test for informational purposes and also stating the results we find.  Our letters have been helpful (for example) for those who – with our testing – have found lead in their dishes / china or crystal and wanted to return the items to the store or manufacturer.

We test free of charge, however donations are welcome and as we are a 501(c)3 nonprofit – may be tax-deductible.  A suggested donation is $5 per test reading.  Donations may be made directly on this site using the PayPal “Donate” button or you can send a check with your sample – made out to Lead Safe America Foundationn.

Thank you.


About kayaerbil

I am a Berkeley educated chemistry Ph.D. who is moving into the area of working on developing appropriate technology for communities that are subjected to socio-economic oppression. The goal is to use simple and effective designs to empower people to live better lives. Currently, I am working with Native Americans on Pine Ridge, the Lakota reservation in South Dakota. I am working with a Native owned and run solar energy company. We are currently working on building a compressed earth block (CEB) house that showcases many of the technologies that the company has developed. The CEB house is made of locally derived resources, earth from the reservation. The blocks are naturally thermally insulating, keeping the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Eventually, a solar air heater and photovoltaic panels will be installed into the house to power the home and keep it warm, while preserving the house off the grid. A side project while in Pine Ridge is a solar computer. I hope to learn about blockchain encryption software for building microgrids. In addition, it is an immediate interest of mine to involve local youth in technology education.
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