Community and urban gardening offer numerous benefits. Some gardens and outdoor play areas may have harmful substances like lead in the soil. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) promotes health education and outreach events called “soilSHOPs” to help people learn if their soil is contaminated with lead, and how to reduce exposures to contaminated soil and produce. The name soilSHOP stands for Soil Screening, Health, Outreach and Partnership. ATSDR developed this toolkit to help communities and other groups plan their own soilSHOP events.
At soilSHOP events, people can receive:
- Free soil screening for lead,
- Information on safe gardening practices,
- Ways to protect children from lead exposure, and
- One-on-one health education about the hazards of lead.
- Determine date and venue
- Plan a site visit
- Identify staff/volunteers
- Become familiar with the community
- Identify community special needs and stakeholders
- Organize and partner
- Become familiar with soil screening guidance
- Secure screening equipment and technicians
- Provide soil screening results and one-on-one health education
- Share resources on safe gardening techniques and health-related services
Communities that are concerned about lead and other contaminants, or that are interested in assessing and cleaning contaminated vacant lots for use as gardens, may wish to contact their local, State or Tribal brownfields program or EPA Regional Brownfields program officesexternal icon for further technical assistanceexternal icon.