SoilSHOP events in Cleveland

The EPA SoilSHOP team will make a special guest appearance at Cleveland Heights Public Library on April 13, 2024 from 11AM-2PM. Bring your sample and learn more about the lead around your home.

SoilSHOP events are free and operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Residents can bring in several samples of soil from their yards or play areas. EPA staff will test the soil on site and provide a report in 3-5 minutes using an x-ray fluorescence (XRF) instrument.

Collecting a Single Soil Sample

Step 1: Identify an area of interest (garden or play area) for your soil sample.

Step 2: Collect Soil - For a large area, collect soil from 5-10 random spots in that area and combine in a clean container. For a small area, collect soil from 3 random spots.


For a garden site, collect soil from the surface down to 6-8 inches deep

For a play area, Collect all soil from the surface down to 1-2 inches deep

Step 3: Mix soil well in clean container.

Step 4: Remove pebbles, rocks, and roots, and let the sample dry in the air. Do not use a flame, oven or hairdryer to dry the soil!

Step 5: Transfer 1 - 2 cups of the mixed soil into a clean one-quart Ziplock bag. Label each bag with the source of the soil: location and type of area.

Where do toxic hazards in soil come from?

Abandoned automobiles can leak fluids on to the ground. Abandoned houses where there is chipping and peeling paint can spread lead dust to surrounding areas.

Exhaust from leaded gasoline (outlawed in the mid1980s) is still lurking in bare soil areas. Sites where cars, trucks, and buses sat idling are likely sources of lead pollution.

Highway and train overpasses are likely spots for lead contamination if structures are rusting and chipping. They don’t call us the RustBelt for nothing!

Industrial emissions from factories which process metals can travel from smokestacks for miles in all directions. You won’t know if you have toxins until your soil is tested.

Demolished houses were often buried on site. Over the years the lead in the buried debris can come to the surface where people walk and play.

What can residents do if they find toxins in soil?

SoilSHOP experts can explain your options to seal the toxins away using mulch, raised beds, and other techniques to keep the toxins away from people.

SoilSHOP Event at Old Brooklyn 

August 5, 2023

On Saturday August 5th CLASH and the US EPA shared a tent at the Old Brooklyn Farmer's market where residents brought garden and play area soil in baggies to be tested for lead contamination.  

With a soundtrack of motorcycles and ambulances whizzing past, Shannon Walsh and Naomi Morgan tested over 30 samples using an XRF (X-ray fluorescent) machine. The XRF looked like a large plastic gun which they pointed at a plastic baggie of dirt for one minute and by xray measured the lead level of each sample.

One couple, whose home was pre-1900, had high levels. Another family was concerned because one of their three children had an elevated blood lead level based on earlier medical testing.

The EPA considers 400 ppm (parts per million) to be action level for lead in soil. Many of the samples tested on Saturday were in the 200 to 800 range.  Shannon from EPA counselled that even much lower levels can call for action. "There is no safe level of lead."

Listening to Shannon give advice about how to remedy the situation was instructive. Use raised beds with fresh dirt that's isolated from the contaminated dirt, using 6" of mulch to bare spots and take your shoes off before entering the house were among the recommendations. Reported by Molly Garfield.

Here's Shannon's interview with Channel 19 

SoilSHOP Event at Coit Road Farmers Market, August 12, 2023

Coit Road Farmer's Market at 15000 Woodworth Rd, near East 152nd and Noble Rd. in East Cleveland. Food Strong sponsored a SoilSHOP event from 10AM- 2PM during their Care-A-Van program, which provides wellness resources, food and nutrition education, health screenings, giveaways, free coupons for the Market, and more. For more information contact 216.417.0111, email info@foodstrong or or visit

August 19, 2023 -- The weather was great, but the turn out was a little disappointing. From 10 AM-1PM at Vel's Purple Oasis at 10821 Frank Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44106 only 5 residents brought soil samples to be tested. On the other hand, CLASH member Dr. Chantal Dothey brought dozens of samples that she collected from vacant lots around the city. EPA staffers Saphique Thomas and Shannon Walsh drove in from Chicago for the event, after a stop in Toledo for a community awareness event.

August 26, 2023 -- 10 AM-1PM. SoilSHOP at Concerned Citizens Community Council, 13611 Kinsman. EPA soil testing (bring samples from your home garden or playground), nutrition demonstrations, raising urban livestock, and lead safety information

Here's Ideastream's story.