Lead Testing

Is your backyard a dangerous place? Many homes in Terre Haute were painted while lead-based paints were common, and gasolines containing lead seeped into the ground. While lead is no longer used in paints or gasoline, several area properties test positive for high concentrations of lead and other harmful heavy metals. Lead exposure impairs cognition and nutrient intake and is particularly dangerous to children, whose bodies are still developing and are not as resilient as those of adults.

Heather Foxx, a Sustainability Fellow who recently received her Master's degree from ISU, structured her thesis around lead testing soils in the Terre Haute area. As part of her research, she tested for lead at the ISU Community Garden and found elevated lead levels. Thanks to her work, we were able to retire garden plots with high levels of lead contamination, replacing root vegetables with woody bushes that take lead out of the soil. For more information about ways to mitigate lead contamination, explore the IUPUI Center for Urban Health Safe Gardening Guide.

ISU offers free lead testing to anyone in the Terre Haute area.
The procedure takes seconds and does not alter your yard. To have your property tested, contact ISU-Lead@mail.indstate.edu. Testing conducted to date is estimated at a $48,000 value to the Terre Haute community.

Below is a map of the 2012 data from lead testing the ISU Community Garden. For concerned community gardeners, please note that the below map uses an old numbering system for garden plots. The geographical locations are still accurate; the two plots to the east with 600ppm or higher have been converted to raised beds, and the gardener with the 600ppm or higher plot that is located closer to the house has been notified and remediation efforts are underway. If you're a community gardener with questions about lead in this area, contact the Garden Coordinator or Manager.