Testing your soil for lead


  • Wash children's hands before eating.
  • Have all family members and guests take off their shoes before entering the house so that lead dust from soil will not get inside.
  • Meals should be nutritious and include fruits and vegetables, calcium-rich foods, like milk, and iron-rich foods, like meat, and iron-fortified cereals.


Areas in your yard where your children normally play should be the first to be tested. Soil in other areas such as near the outside of your house or garage, or near a street, may also contain lead. These areas pose less danger if your children do not spend much time in or around them.

  • Select area(s) to sample.
  • Scrape dirt from the top 1/2 inch of each area you have picked with a clean trowel or spoon.
  • Collect about 1 cup of dirt and place it in a clean, ordinary plastic bag. Any plants or grass that is growing in your sample should be cut out with scissors rather than pulled out. Plant roots may stay in the sample.
  • Send the sample to a test-ing laboratory certified by your local Department of Health Services.
  • To get a list of certified laboratories, call your local health department.


Children aged 9 months through 5 years are at the greatest risk for lead poisoning. Most children with lead poisoning do not look or act sick. Ask your doctor to perform a blood lead test on your children. This is the only way to know if they are being lead poisoned. Your doctor should explain the results of the test to you. Most children will have a test result below 10 µg/dL. If you or your doctor need more information about lead poisoning, call the local health department.

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