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What is a soilSHOP?

soilSHOP stands for Soil Screening, Health, Outreach, and Partnership. It is a community health education program developed by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). As a participating state, Montana DPHHS staff host soilSHOP events to raise community awareness about lead hazards and how to reduce and prevent lead exposures.

What are the benefits of soilSHOP?

It is important to know what is in your environment and lower your chances of exposure to lead. There is no known safe level of lead in children. Come to soilSHOP and gain information on lead levels in the soil at your home. Ask DPHHS staff one-on-one questions. Learn easy ways you can keep your family safe from lead.

How does soilSHOP work?

Collect soil from your yard, garden, etc., and bring it to a soilSHOP event in a clear plastic bag. Our trained staff will test the soil sample and provide results in minutes.

How do I collect and prepare a soil sample?

For the area, you want to test, collect soil from multiple spots if possible. For garden areas, dig 6 inches and collect all 6 inches of soil. For play areas, collect soil from about 2 inches deep. Mix soils from all spots (garden and play areas should be separate, not mixed) in a container and remove large debris. If the soil is wet, dry the soil (e.g., leave in the sun) before packaging your soil in a sealed, clear plastic bag.

How are soil samples tested?

Trained DPHHS staff use an XRF (X-Ray Fluorescence) device to analyze soil samples. The main benefit of the XRF is that it allows for quick, real-time soil screening results. The XRF is a well-accepted and commonly used field instrument for screening soil for heavy metals like lead.

What are the next steps if I am concerned about soil lead results?

DPHHS staff will provide one-on-one consultation on what the soil screening results mean, tips on how to lower and prevent exposures, and resources if you are concerned about potential lead exposures.

What are some examples of safe gardening practices?

  • Maintain a ground cover of grass or mulch
  • Use raised bed gardens with a minimum depth of 18 inches
  • Remove/replace/remediate contaminated soil
  • Practice good personal habits and gardening practices, e.g., wear gloves when gardening, wash hands after gardening, wash produce before eating, and remove shoes outside to limit tracking dirt from the garden into the house
  • Set a good example for children to practice these healthy habits

Upcoming soilSHOP events

  • 9/15/2023 from 12 to 5 pm as part of the Threshing Bee Event (Weatherbeater Building) in Choteau

Past soilSHOP events


To learn more about soilSHOP visit  ATSDR's Frequently Asked Questions about soilSHOP

For general questions or future soilSHOP event dates contact