Skip to main content

Oregon State Flag An official website of the State of Oregon » Homepage

soilSHOPs in Oregon

What are soilSHOP events?    

Soil Screening, Health, Outreach, and Partnership (soilSHOP) events provide community members with free lead screening of soil gathered from their gardens or outdoor play area(s). Participants receive screening results on the same day. Health educators provide one-on-one consultation with participants about their specific soil results.

Through soilSHOPs, the Environmental Health Assessment Program provides health education and outreach to help people learn if their soil is contaminated and how to reduce exposures.

If you are interested in partnering to host a soilSHOP, please email

Upcoming soil screening events in Oregon:

June 22th, 2024, 10am - 1pm @ the Historic Kenton Fire House. (8105 N Brandon Ave, Portland, OR 97217). Hosted by: Multnomah County Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

For more information on soilSHOP events - including how to take a proper soil sample - see below.
Para obtener información sobre el evento e instrucciones de muestreo en español, HAGA CLIC AQUÍ. Para formularios de check-in en español HAGA CLIC AQUÍ.

Why should I screen my soil?

With the rise in community and urban gardening, it is important to prevent exposures to contaminants that may be found in soil, like lead. Lead exposure, particularly in children, can cause irreversible and life-long health effects. No safe blood lead level has been identified. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect children's IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. Although children are more susceptible to lead exposure, adults are not immune. Long-term and/or high levels of exposure can lead to high blood pressure or kidney damage in adults. soilSHOP events provide health education and outreach and help people learn about potential exposures to lead in soil, and how to reduce exposures.

What should I bring to the soilSHOP?

At least 1-2 cups of dry soil sampled from one area (garden, yard or play area) must be prepared ahead of time and arrive in clear plastic baggies. Baggies of soil should be labeled with where the sample was taken from. View complete sampling instructions below. 

What will my soil be tested for at the soilSHOP?

We are offering screening for only lead at this event. We cannot provide information on additional contaminants (e.g., arsenic, cadmium), but many of our safe gardening tips are helpful in preventing exposures to other contaminants that may be found in soil.  

What information can soilSHOP provide?

Soil screening will provide an estimate of the concentration of lead in your soil sample(s). Lead concentrations will be measured in parts per million (ppm) or milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) of soil. One ppm is like:

  • one inch in 16 miles,
  • one second in 11.5 days,
  • one minute in two years.
soilSHOP staff will help explain soil screening results and share information on ways to reduce potential exposures to lead and other harmful substances in soil.

It is important to keep in mind that results from just a few samples collected from your yard may not represent soil levels throughout your yard. Soil can change, and lead concentrations may be very different throughout. Our methods are not able to identify sources of lead.

Field-based XRF screening (the method we use for soilSHOP events) is not as accurate as laboratory analysis. The screening level data from the soilSHOP may not be scientifically or legally defensible.  Sample interpretations and screening data are not designed, or of an appropriate data quality, to drive public health decisions.

Participants may wish to seek further laboratory testing to confirm their soil screening results.  

What if my screening results show there are high levels of lead on my property?

We will provide you with expert advice on how to reduce lead exposures and safe gardening practices. We may also suggest seeking laboratory analysis. More information can be found in these resources:

How To Collect a Soil Sample:

Collecting soil is simple - all you need is a plastic zip-close bag and a spoon. Watch this 2.5 minute video and review the steps below to learn how to take a soil sample: How to collect a soil sample - YouTube.

Start at least 3-5 days before the event, depending on how wet your soil is. Samples will need to be completely dry for screening, so budget enough time for soil to dry before bagging it.

Step 1: Identify an area of interest for your soil sample.

Step 2: Collect Soil - For a large area, collect soil from 5-10 random spots in that area, and combine in a clean container.

For a small area, collect soil from 3 random spots and combine in a clean container. (See table below for sampling depth per spot.)

Step 3: Make note of where the soil was collected from and the depth of the sample.

Step 4: Mix soil well in clean container.

Step 5: Remove pebbles, rocks, and roots, and air dry. Samples must be completely dry before they can be screened. Do not use a flame, oven or hairdryer to dry the soil!

Step 6: Transfer at least 2 cups of the mixed soil into a clean one-quart Ziplock bag.

Step 7: It will help our health educators give you the best advice if you are able to provide the following information about the area your soil sample(s) were taken from: Age of nearest structure (fence, house, shed, etc.), Last time the structure was painted, if lead paint was used, if any treated wood products were used.

You may print out our fillable log-in sheet and complete this information prior to the event. OHA will also have log-in sheets to fill out at the event. 

Note: For more than one sample, repeat steps 1-5. Rinse your container between samples. Limit of 3 sample bags/person

sampling cartoon.png

sampling depth table.png


OHA soilSHOP tri-fold brochure: English / Spanish

OHA Healthy Gardening Factsheet:  English / Spanish

OHA Protective Diet factsheet: English / Spanish

OHA Lead in Soil factsheet:  English 

OHA Lead Posions Kids brochure: English / Spanish

OHA Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program Lead Screening Parent Questionnaire:  English / Spanish

OHA Testing Your Child for Lead factsheet: English

OHA Why Choose Microfiber Cloths?  English / Spanish

OHA Lead Awareness for Tenants:  English / Spanish

OHA Lead Awareness for Landlords: English

OHA Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule: English

OHA Certified Lead Paint Abatement and Testing Firms: English

ATSDR Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home:  English / Spanish

ATSDR Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Yard:  English / Spanish

ATSDR Lead Toxicology FAQs:  English / Spanish

ATSDR How to Build a Raised Garden Bed:  English 

EPA Accredited National Lead Testing Labs (NLLAP List): English

EPA Updated Soil Lead Guidance for CERCLA/RCRA Settings: English

HUD Guidelines for the Evaluation and Control of Lead-based Paint Hazards in Housing (Chapter 11: Interim Contols): English

Oregon DEQ Background Levels of Metals in Soils for Cleanups: English

Oregon State University Reducing Lead hazard in Gardens and Play Areas: English

Understanding Your test Results: Lead in Soil and Chicken Eggs Factsheet: English

Renovate Right (Remodelar Correctamente): Spanish

CDC Lead Hazards in Toys: English / Spanish

CDC: Recalls of Children's Products, Foods, Cosmetics, and Medicines Due to Lead Hazards: English

Related Programs and Webpages:

Oregon Health Authority Lead Poisoning and Exposure to Lead webpage: Click HERE
Oregon Health Authority Healthy Gardening webpage: Click HERE


Contact our program by emailing