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Illinois offering public opportunity to test soil for lead at April 14 event

Public invited to drop off soil samples or bring them in person for on-site screening in Enos Park at event hosted by IDPH, IEPA, Enos Park Neighborhood Gardens and City of Springfield

The State of Illinois and the City of Springfield are inviting the public to a soilSHOP event (click link to see video) where they can bring soil samples from their yards and gardens to be screened for lead this Friday, April 14, in Enos Park at 1000 North 7th St., Springfield.

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is hosted jointly by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), Enos Park Neighborhood Gardens, and the City of Springfield. Samples can also be dropped off this week at IDPH’s Springfield office.

“We are very excited to work with our partners to offer Springfield area residents an opportunity to reduce their exposure to lead and other metals in their gardens and backyards,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. “The soilSHOP event allows us to raise environmental awareness and provides residents an opportunity to discover causes of concern in the soil around their homes. There is no safe lead level in children, and even low levels found in blood have shown to negatively affect a child’s intelligence, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. We encourage all Springfield residents, especially parents or guardians, to take advantage of this opportunity to protect their loved ones.”

“This soilSHOP event is a great example of collaboration between state and local partners to bring services to area residents,” said Illinois EPA Director John J. Kim. “Illinois EPA is happy to work with our sister agency IDPH, the City of Springfield, and Enos Park Neighborhood Garden to provide onsite testing and knowledge from our staff. We hope residents throughout the neighborhood will take advantage of this opportunity.”

“Home health hazards may not be top of mind, but can impact our residents regardless of neighborhood. The City of Springfield is proud to partner on this soilSHOP event and encourage our community to take part in this opportunity. As you take the time to improve your property through gardening and landscaping, it is important to ensure there are no hidden elements that may cause concern for you or your family in the soil,” said Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder.

IDPH is offering area residents who can’t make it to the Friday event the opportunity to drop off soil samples at the agency’s office at 525 W. Jefferson St. through Thursday, April 13. Those samples will be tested and people who drop them off will be notified of the results by a method of their choosing, either by mail, email or phone.

SoilSHOP stands for Screening, Health, Outreach and Partnership and is a program intended to help educate and protect people from exposure to hazardous substances in soil run by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Here’s how to collect a soil sample and package it for testing in a one-quart zip top plastic bag, either in person or at the drop-off site:

  • Choose a location at least 5 feet away from a house or road.
  • Collect soil from 5 to 10 random spots in your selected area.
    • For small areas, collect soil from 3 random spots.
  • For gardens, collect soil from the top 6 inches of soil.
  • For other areas, collect soil from the top 2 inches of soil.
  • Combine soil in a clean container and mix well.
  • Remove rocks, twigs, and roots, then air dry. Do not apply heat.
  • Transfer 1 to 2 cups of mixed soil into a clean one-quart zip top plastic bag.
  • Label the bag with the location where the soil was collected.

Soil samples that are brought to Enos Park will be tested on the spot using a portable spectrometer that can quickly determine the elemental composition of the sample. Residents will find out immediately if they have any cause for concern and will have the opportunity to consult with IDPH and IEPA experts on any recommended steps to reduce exposure.

For more information contact IDPH’s Environmental Toxicology team at or (217) 785-3121

For more information about IDPH’s lead poisoning prevention programs, click here.

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