Testing for contaminants in soil, water and plants

Sometimes, what you don’t know can hurt you.

A soil core sample.
Photo by Nate Walton, MSU Extension

The Michigan State University Extension soil testing service offers a variety of analyses through the Home Lawn and Garden Soil Test Mailer and the commercial soil test bag. These tests provide information on soil nutrients, pH, organic matter and cation exchange capacity, along with detailed, personalized recommendations for fertilizer and soil amendments that make it easy for residents to select and apply the correct products for their lawns and gardens. However, we do not test soil, water or plant samples for contaminants such as heavy metals or pesticides. Such contaminants can sometimes go undetected and pose risks to human health and wellbeing.

There are a number of ways to reduce the risk of exposure to soil contaminants, thereby reducing the risk to human health. A first step is to identify the level of risk based on previous land use, such as for agriculture or industry. North Carolina State Extension has compiled information for urban gardeners that is relevant to anyone with concerns about common contaminants in soil, urban or otherwise. They explain how to identify potential risk based on site characteristics, what contaminants to test for, and how to interpret the results of soil contaminant tests.

For residents concerned about the presence of pesticides, heavy metals and other contaminants in their soils, Michigan State University Extension has created a list of labs that offer soil, water or plant tissue contaminant testing. This list is for educational purposes only. It is not a comprehensive list and presence on this list does not imply endorsement by Michigan State University Extension or bias against those not mentioned. Please contact the individual labs via the contact information provided for sample collection, packaging and shipping information.

Labs that test for a variety of soil contaminants, including lead and other heavy metals

Penn State Ag Analytical Services Lab
111 Ag Analytical Services Lab
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: 814-863-0841
Website: https://agsci.psu.edu/aasl/soil-testing/environmental 

UMass Soil & Plant Nutrient Testing Lab
*Total lead analysis should be conducted - not a correlation lead analysis.
203 Paige Laboratory
161 Holdsworth Way
Amherst, MA 01003
Phone: 413-545-5914
Website: https://ag.umass.edu/services/soil-plant-nutrient-testing-laboratory/lab-services 

Cornell Soil Health Laboratory
303 Tower Rd. Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853
Email: soilhealth@cornell.edu
Website: https://soilhealthlab.cals.cornell.edu

Labs that test soil and/or plant material for pesticide (including herbicide) residue

Columbia Food Laboratories, Inc.
*Soil, water and plant tissue. Offers screens covering multiple active ingredients.
12423 NE Whitaker Way
Portland, OR 97230
Email: info@columbiafoodlab.com    
Website: http://columbiafoodlab.com           

Matrix Sciences/PAL
*Soil, water and plant tissue. Offers screens covering multiple active ingredients.
21830 SW Alexander Ln.
Sherwood, OR 97140
Phone: 503-626-7943
Email: Contactus@pacaglab.com   
Website: http://pacaglab.com           

Matrix Sciences International
*Soil, water and plant tissue. Offers screens covering multiple active ingredients.
dba South Dakota Agricultural Laboratories
1335 Western Ave
Brookings, SD 57006
Phone: 605-692-7325
Email: SDCS@sdaglabs.com  
Website: http://sdaglabs.com

Microbac Laboratories, Inc.
*Plant tissue only. Call or email first.
3809 Airport Drive
Wilson, NC 27896
Phone: 252-237-4175
Email: Lauren Golding, lauren.golding@microbac.com or Jennifer Peaden, jennifer.peaden@microbac.com           

Midwest Laboratories
*Soil and water samples only.
13611 B Street
Omaha, NE 68144
Phone: 402-334-7770
Email: environmentalteam@midwestlabs.com  
Website: https://midwestlabs.com

Labs that test soil and water for PFAS 

MSU Center for PFAS Research - PFAS Analytical Laboratory
3815 Technology Blvd.
Lansing, MI 48910
Phone: 517-336‐4672
Email: pfas@msu.edu
Website: https://www.canr.msu.edu/pfas-research/analytical-laboratory/pfas-testing

Enviro Lab Services, Inc.
*Also provide heavy metal testing.
4150 Arrow Street
Oscoda, MI 48750
Phone: 620-417-3608
Email: travis@envirolabusa.com
Website: https://www.enviro-britesolutions.com/

Merit Laboratories Inc.
2680 East Lansing Dr.
East Lansing, MI 48823
Phone: 517-332-0167
Website: https://www.meritlabs.com/pfas

A laboratory that can identify unknown soluble, easily extractable compounds (e.g., soil fumigants)

MSU Max T. Rogers Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Facility
Department of Chemistry
Daniel Holmes, PhD
578 S. Shaw Lane, Room 27
East Lansing, MI 48824
Phone: 517-353-1165
Email: holmesd5@msu.edu  
Website: https://www2.chemistry.msu.edu/facilities/nmr/

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