Lead is a naturally occurring element found in the Earth’s crust. While all soil contains some amount of lead, it can be toxic to humans when it exists in large amounts.
For decades, lead has been used in products like paint, gasoline, piping and other building materials. When these products enter the environment, they often become embedded in the soil, where lead exposure can occur while gardening, playing in bare soil or eating produce that was grown in contaminated soil.
Lead exposure can cause a variety of health risks for people of all ages, but it’s especially toxic to children, whose bodies are still developing and absorb lead faster. Once lead enters your body, it can become impossible to remove.
Testing soil for lead can determine whether the soil is contaminated and inform any steps that should be taken to reduce lead exposure. Alpha Environmental offers professional lead testing in soil for residential and commercial properties.
How Does Lead Get Into Soil?
Lead can enter the soil in a number of ways, but it is especially common near:
- Properties near major roadways, especially if they are more than 40 years old
- Homes that are 50 years old or older
Buildings near highways have likely been exposed to years of leaded gasoline emissions that have been released into the air. Before lead was eliminated from gasoline in 1989, car exhaust mixed with the soil near roadways. Because lead doesn’t wash away, the contaminated soil will remain. Over time, this lead from the soil can also become airborne, causing additional exposure.
Prior to its ban in 1978, lead-based paints were widely used on the walls and ceilings of homes and businesses. As this paint ages, paint chips or dust that contains lead can fall into the soil surrounding the building’s base, causing elevated levels of lead in the soil around the structure. This is why it’s especially important to test soil for lead near homes that have existed for 50 or more years.
When these sources of lead enter the soil, it typically remains in the top two inches, where you’re more likely to come in contact with it through outdoor activities. It’s also common for this looser soil to enter your home by sticking to shoes, clothing or pets.
Why You Should Have Your Soil Tested
Testing soil for lead near your home or business is the first step in reducing your risk of lead exposure. Lead testing in soil is especially important for the following areas, which are at risk for high levels of heavy metals like lead:
- Older residential areas that may have used lead-based solders, pipes, faucets or other materials in the building process
- Businesses that may be located on sites where lead-based materials were once used or produced
- Metal fabrication and machining shops that handle raw metals
- Glassblowing factories, especially those that make products using lead crystal
- Industrial factories that emit high levels of fumes
While lead in soil is most common in these areas, it can exist anywhere. It is important to test soil for lead if you have any concerns about its presence.
Contact Us for Lead Testing
Lead exposure from soil can be dangerous and lead to long-term health problems. Alpha Environmental’s team of professionals will perform reliable lead testing, help you interpret the results and recommend any necessary steps to reduce your exposure.
Contact us today to learn more about lead testing in soil.