How to Test for Contaminated Soil


Contaminates are everywhere. Toxic substances such as sewage and lead cause substantial hazards for farmers and rural homeowners alike. In fact, according to the University of Minnesota, lead contamination in soil is among the most common sources of lead exposure. This exposure is of even greater concern because substances such as lead remain in the soil indefinitely, unlike other substances that wash out of the soil over time.

Step 1

Dig up soil samples with a hand shovel. When testing for contamination in the soil, the best samples will come from areas around the home's foundation or any other buildings, near a septic tank or any area that receives a large amount of runoff.

Step 2

Place the samples in a plastic bucket. By placing them in a plastic bucket, you ensure that the sample is not contaminated by the bucket.

Step 3

Mix together the samples with the shovel.

Step 4

Fill the soil test kit sample bag with some of the sample soil and send it to your county extension office for testing. Generally, you should receive your test results by mail within 10 to 15 business days.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand shovel
  • Plastic bucket
  • Soil test kit from your county extension office


  • University of Minnesota Extension: Lead in the Home Garden and Urban Soil Environment
  • Michigan State University Extension: How to Test Soil
  • University of Delaware Extension Office: Soil Testing Program
Keywords: soil testing, testing for contaminates, testing for lead

About this Author

Steven White is a privately contracted software engineer, web developer, and tech support representative. He has 3 years of experience providing technical support for AT&T broadband customers. He is currently a Master's of Software Engineering student and enjoys sharing his knowledge and expertise with others.