CHICAGO (AP) – The University of Illinois has launched a two-year study and is offering free soil tests to home gardeners and urban farmers across the Chicago area.
It’s called the Chicago Safe Soils Initiative.
Professor Andrew Margenot is the leader of the project and he says that cities can often be “hotspots” for heavy metals like lead. He and others will be collecting thousands of soil samples from backyards, community gardens, and urban farms in the next two years.
They plan to map out what they find and make it publicly available.
University officials say it’s common to find high lead levels near roads and houses built before 1978 when paint containing lead was banned. Participants will have to fill out a sample soil intake form.