Free soil tests for Port Kembla residents

Soil Science Challenge

Port Kembla residents are being offered free voluntary soil tests of their land in February 2022.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is offering the testing following a report that examined the legacy of historical heavy metal contamination in the area.

The EPA conducted surface soil testing of parks, nature strips and community gardens and found heavy metals levels at every site were below recognised national health guidelines, which means residents can safely use the areas.

However, Steve Beaman, EPA Executive Director Regulatory Operations said levels of heavy metals in surface soils can vary from property to property.

The tests are part of a larger statewide heavy metals testing program that compares levels of heavy metals, including lead and cadmium, against the National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure.

Beaman said the results gave residents up-to-date, relevant information about their suburb, addressed data gaps and helped the community make informed decisions about whether to conduct testing on their own properties.

“We encourage everyone in Port Kembla to visit the EPA’s website to view the results, but they must also understand that levels of heavy metals in surface soils can vary from property to property, and the threshold level for a residence is lower than for a public space,” he said.

“For this reason, private landholders may want to go a step further and get their own property tested. This is why we are offering Port Kembla residents free voluntary soil testing on their land in February 2022.”

While Port Kembla’s lead levels in public areas were found to be within the national health guidelines, Beamer said it was still important for residents to understand how to reduce exposure to heavy metals.

“Simple actions like washing hands regularly and using raised garden beds with new, clean soil, can limit exposure to these chemicals,” he said.

The EPA will continue to work with the community to ensure it knows what actions it can take to live safely with lead and to understand the results of any testing.

Beaman said residents with questions or concerns about the tests, can contact the EPA.

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