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The Importance of Soil Testing

Posted in Environmental Testing | Home Inspection Services | Soil Testing on August 15th, 2019 by Ian Stevens
Soil Testing

When you are considering the purchase of a new home, you look at lots of details to decide if it is the right home for you. And while you may have a home inspector who is checking your potential new home inside and out, there is one area that is often overlooked – the soil surrounding the house. Keep in mind, even if the home your considering isn’t near a landfill or a toxic waste dump, that doesn’t mean the surrounding soil isn’t contaminated. Soil around homes can be contaminated by pesticides, petroleum products, and exhaust.

Homes built on farmland or military sites can also have hidden contaminants in the surrounding soil. All these opportunities for soil contamination make a case for soil testing when considering purchasing a home, especially if you have children, pets, or are planning to grow your own food. Read on and learn the importance of soil testing.

What Does Soil Testing Accomplish?

Soil testing allows you to know the nutrient content and pH of the soil, as well as identifying any contaminants within. Contamination can come in the form of excess nitrogen, phosphorous, or other toxins. Soil pH is the measure of the soil’s alkalinity or acidity and depending on the range it may take years to correct. Soil’s chemistry is always changing, a result of chemical contaminants and biological processes (plants and animals), which means sampling should be performed within days of a sample’s extraction. 

Having Soil Tested for Contaminants

Toxins and other contaminants found in soil come in many forms – from liquid to solid – and often live in or bond with soil particles. Contamination not only negatively affects plant growth but can also be harmful to children and pets who may dig in the dirt or pick up items from the soil. If you enjoy gardening, vegetables and fruit grown in contaminated soil are also affected.

Soil Contamination Sources

Toxins, including arsenic and other metals and elements, often occur naturally in soil but most soil contamination is the result of human activity like the use of herbicides and pesticides. Continual use in former farmlands can result in a buildup of toxic residues. Spills and leaks of oil, gasoline, and other solvents can also contaminate soil as they can bury toxic waste which pollutes groundwater and spreads. Lead is another common pollutant in soil often found near older homes and those build near heavy traffic areas.

Developments constructed on previously cultivated farmland may have contaminated soil as do those constructed on former military bases and properties used for military training and activities. Known toxins in soil often preclude gardening depending on the level of soil contaminants.

Getting Your Soil Tested

If you are concerned about your present property or potential property’s soil condition, there are home inspectors who are licensed to perform the necessary testing. You should opt for soil testing if you want to have a vegetable garden or fruit trees on your property, or if you have children and pets who enjoy playing outside.

With over 25 years of hands on inspection experience, we can help with soil testing for homeowners and residents of Maryland, Washington, DC, Delaware, and northern Virginia.