As the entries on this blog have described, soil contamination is a big problem, and a dangerous one at that. We have learned several ways that we can prevent soil contamination. But how exactly can you tell if soil is contaminated?
Soil contamination can often be somewhat obvious. For example, if you can see paint chips embedded in the soil, and the paint is known to contain lead, the soil is likely contaminated. Other indications that the soil may be contaminated include obvious discoloration and strong odors. These are all signs that the soil is likely hazardous. Another, granted less reliable, clue of possible soil contamination is the failure of vegetation to thrive in a particular area of soil. However, this also depends on the type of vegetation and whether or not the soil type would be suitable for growth even if the soil were not contaminated.
The above signs are simply that, just clues that may indicate soil contamination. The only surefire way to tell if soil is contaminated is to perform a certified laboratory test on a sample of the soil. A thorough testing of any area of soil can be very costly. However, testing for the three most common soil contaminants, lead, arsenic and cadmium, can be done for as little as $100.