Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Free Soil Testing for DC Residents!

The Environmental Quality Testing Laboratory of the University of the District of Columbia is  providing one-time, free soil quality testing for D.C. residents and gardeners. The service will be offered on a first come, first served basis for a limited time throughout July and August as part of a USDA-grant, funded to analyze soil samples in home and community gardens around D.C. Apply here.

Urban agriculture is increasingly becoming a way of life for city residents; therefore, it is important to test the soil quality of your garden for three main reasons. First, soil can contain contaminants that pose risk to human health. Second, we may not have enough information about the level of contamination in our soil. Finally, testing our soil give us valuable information to improve your garden and promote healthy soil.

The analysis offered by the Environmental Quality Testing Laboratory will measure macro nutrients and environmental trace metals such as lead and arsenic. Most soil testing is limited in scope due to cost, so this offer is especially beneficial to D.C.’s gardeners, as it provides complete information about the level of trace metals in their gardens while reducing costs. Once the Environmental Quality Lab has received NELAC certification, it will be prepared to offer a similar fee-based service in the future. At that time, D.C. residents will no longer have to send their soil out of state.

“We receive several inquiries a week as to whether we offer this service, and we’ve always had to recommend out of state laboratories,” explained Dr. Tolessa Deksissa, Director of UDC’s Water Resources Research Institute, Professional Science Master’s (PSM) Program and Environmental Quality Testing Laboratory. “In time, when we offer soil testing at cost, being located in the District along with our use of innovative techniques to measure specific environmental contaminants will help to make services more cost effective.”

Interested D.C. residents are encouraged to apply. Graduate and undergraduate research students have already begun collecting samples. Once your application is reviewed, you will be contacted by WRRI to schedule a sampling collection time.

“It is very exciting to offer this opportunity to the residents of D.C.,” said Dr. Sabine O’Hara, College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES). “As an urban landgrant institution, we are thrilled to be able to offer soil testing service to our community.” 

Located on UDC’s Van Ness Campus, the Environmental Quality Testing Lab was constructed to help District residents have a convenient and affordable way of testing water and soil for environmental contaminants and other impurities and to serve as an unbiased monitor of surface, ground and municipal water quality in D.C., helping to protect water resources and human health. The lab has state-of-the-art equipment that can be applied to the analysis of chemical and biological water quality parameters in soil, water and wastewater, and also the research capacity to measure the existing environmental conditions and identify alternative solutions to address environmental problems.

See additional photos on our Facebook page!
The Water Resources Research Institute is part of the CAUSES Center for Sustainable Development. Funded by USGS, the Institute provides seed grants to innovative water-related projects that identify problems of and contribute solutions to DC water issues. For more information on CAUSES, visit www.udc.edu/causes. For questions, please contact Dr. Deksissa at tdeksissa@udc.edu or at (202) 274-5273.  We look forward to receiving your application.

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