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Safe Soil UK: Bringing urban soil testing to the masses

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

Curiosity may have killed the cat but it went a long way to helping us root out potentially harmful contaminants in our own London garden. As long-time gardening enthusiasts, we take an interest in our (admittedly small bit of) soil and its impact on the flowers and vegetables we grow every year. This took a sinister turn when we came across a local rumour that a site near our house was once some kind of battery factory.

At this point, our interest started to extend beyond soil basics like pH and texture and on to toxic elements that may be lurking beneath our feet.

There’s no disputing that the UK’s industrial heritage has left behind a legacy of contaminated land. We are descendants of a people who were at the sharp end of the industrial revolution and while this played an important part in establishing the living standards we now enjoy, there was a darker downside as the very industrial processes and activities that made Britain one of the wealthiest nations on earth also released substances and waste products into the environment that have the potential to have a detrimental impact on our health.

Be soil safe with Safe Soil UK

What if our little annual harvests of veg and flowers were actually serving up cocktails of lead, arsenic, chromium and other unsavoury (to say the least) elements while our time tending the fledgling crops was exposing us to airborne samples of dioxins, hydrocarbons and even asbestos? Posing that question marked the germination of Safe Soil UK, which aims to make the testing of urban garden soils easy, affordable (the science involved in the testing is never going to be cheap but we’re doing our best) and also help interpret the results using UK government standards where they’re available and relying on international guidelines to fill in any blanks.

Don’t chance it, test it!

When we started our journey in search of peace of mind that our little patch of land was not slowly killing us, we hit a roadblock. There is no shortage of laboratories capable of testing soil but many of these charged a fortune.

Then there was the problem of what we actually wanted to test for. The list of harmful chemicals and elements that a lab could test for is as long as one’s arm. Which ones should we be testing for? And finally, how much of something is too much? The answers to these questions required extensive research but we got there in the end.

And while no health authority can make a definitive call on the precise amount at which something becomes harmful or even lethal, most agree on ranges. We use these to interpret your results and where conflicts exist, we point them out to allow you, our customers, to make informed decisions and, hopefully, provide peace of mind. When that’s not possible, we are happy to share recommendations on potential remediation approaches.

We’re glad you’ve found us and we hope to make your own journey of discovery markedly easier than the one we had to take.

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