All heavy metals occur naturally on earth, and you should expect to find some metals in your garden soil. In cities and industrial areas, particles of heavy metals are released into the air by vehicle and train exhaust, power plants, certain businesses and lead-based paint from buildings.  These particles eventually settle back to earth, landing all around us, including on homes, parks, roads, backyards, garden soil and plant leaves. 

Like most adults in this country, it is unlikely that you will be exposed to unhealthy levels of heavy metals from eating your garden produce, but you may want to consider taking a few simple steps to keep your family safe.  This website outlines some of these steps, including how to get your soil tested for heavy metals, and also outlines the results of a project that tested soil of 100 vegetable gardens in San Francisco that looked at heavy metals in relationship to race/ethnicity, income, and other factors.

Pamphlets on Heavy Metals & Gardening

       Heavy Metals and Urban Gardens                 有關重金屬和花園的小冊              

        Horticultura Sin Metales Pesados        
Ang Paghahardin ng walang nakalalason na metal         

        Làm vườn không cần đến các khoáng chất nặng

What you Need to Know

Including pamphlets in English, Chinese, Spanish, Tagalog & Vietnamese.

Soil Sampling for Testing

Take your own soil samples and send them off for testing.

 pH Test Only


Standard Soil Test
  Soil Nutrients
  Soil Texture

Testing: Labs and Results

Picking a lab & understanding the test results.


Safe Levels

Levels of heavy metals deemed "safe" by different government agencies.                                

Managing Metals & Bio- Accumulation in Plants & Humans

Simple steps for maintaining a healthy garden.  


SanFrancisco:  A Case Study

A look at metals found in vegetable gardens of San Francisco.   

Resources & Discussion Forum


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