Simple steps to start collecting.
Follow the simple instructions below
to gather the materials you want
tested. Attend a local gathering
for additional training, see events.
Collect & Submit
Drop your samples off at the nearest
University of Arizona Cooperative
Extension office for transport to
Dr. Ramirez-Andreotta’s Integrated
Environmental Science and Health
Risk Laboratory analysis.
University of Arizona researchers
will run extensive tests to determine
the concentration of potential
contaminants. If you are interested
in preparing your own samples
in the laboratory, please contact
Dr. Ramirez-Andreotta directly.
Gather with community members
and researchers to discuss results
that will help improve our
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Reduce Arsenic Absorption by Vegetables
Test your soils
Before you amend, or grow anything, you should test your soils (once is only needed). Please refer to the Gardenroots Instructional Manual for soil collection methods. Please note that a safe soil arsenic standard for growing vegetables has not been established.
Some garden products may contain arsenic
Pay attention to the garden soil and amendments that you are using.
Iron in soils can reduce the available amount of arsenic
The iron and arsenic come together to form iron arsenate, a form of arsenic that is not well absorbed by vegetables. Please refer to AZ1415.
Place a barrier
You can put an impermeable barrier between the uncontaminated topsoil, and the underlying contaminated soil to reduce mixing, and remind you how deep to till. If you do this, you must provide for bed drainage.
pH is crucial
Keep your soils near the near the neutral zone (6.5-7.5).
The organic matter can help reduce how much a vegetable takes up. Apply at least a layer of organic matter 2 to 3 inches thick on the garden area about 1 to 2 months before planting. Please refer to AZ1435.
Build Containers or raised beds
Construct a container or raised bed using materials and soils low in arsenic and lead. For example, do not use arsenic treated lumber to construct raised beds. Make sure to test the bedding soils before planting.
Replace contaminated soils
This may require technical assistance and guidance from the AZ Department of Environmental Quality.
Arsenic and lead occur naturally in soils. It is impossible to grow plants completely free of arsenic and lead, but there are ways to reduce the amount that is available to, and taken up by your vegetables. Above are important recommended practices.
Reduce Incidental Soil Ingestion and Inhalation
Windy Days = No Gardening
Avoid gardening on windy days.
Avoid eating and drinking while you garden
Soils and dust might get on your food or in your drink, and you could accidental swallow it.
Keep soils moist while gardening to control dust
This will limit the amount of dust you inhale.
Designate a set of clothes and shoes for gardening use only
Keep your gardening clothes and shoes outside, or in a plastic bag outside. Try your best to keep your gardening clothes and shoes out of your home.
Consider wearing a mask in dusty environments.
Wash your hands and all exposed body surfaces after gardening.
Leave your shoes outside
Remove your shoes right before enter your home to avoid tracking soil into your home.
Mop floors with a damp mop, and wipe down surfaces in your home regularly. Change your vacuum bag more often, or upgrade your vacuum to one that has a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter.
Wash, and then store all your gardening tools outside.
You can greatly reduce your exposure to arsenic from your soil if you follow the suggestions above.
Safe Consumption of Homegrown Vegetables
Reduce Dietary Arsenic and Lead Ingestion
Wash your hands
After gardening, and before vegetable washing.
Once inside your home, wash your vegetables again using a scrub brush to remove remaining soil particles
Look at the shape of your vegetables - some can trap soil particles. For example, soil particles can get trapped in between the flower heads on broccoli, and leafy vegetables have large surface areas where soil can collect.
Mix it up
Eat vegetables from your garden, the grocery store and farmers' market. Eating a mixture of homegrown and store bought can help reduce your potential exposure.
Wash your vegetables before you bring them into the house
This act can reduce the amount of arsenic and lead on your vegetables, and what is transported into your home.
Pare and/or Peel
Pare and/or peel root and tuber crops like carrots, radishes, and potatoes. Make sure you throw the parings and peelings away.
Do not compost unused plant parts, peelings or parings for use in the garden
This act will reduce the recycling of arsenic and lead in your compost.
Arsenic and lead occur naturally in soils. Concentrations of arsenic and lead in soils may be 10 to 100 times greater than concentrations in the vegetables you grown in that soil. Because of this, it is crucial to remove soil particles that stick to your garden crops. Above are important recommended practices.