Soil Testing

Image of scoop of soil

Is Your Soil Contaminated?

Sgt. Poopers Conservation Rangers provide soil testing for contaminates and for nutrients across Greater Dallas

Contents (Quick Links)

Soil Testing Introduction

Sgt. Poopers provides two kinds of soil testing in Dallas, Texas. First, we can test for toxic contaminates to protect you and your family. Secondly, we test for nutrients to give your green thumb a super boost.

Is the earth around your home over-saturated with pesticides? It's easy to find out. Will the pH balance in your yard turn your green thumb brown? Sgt. Poopers can help you know before you grow.

Children digging in the soil.Children's nervous systems and cognitive ability are especially vulnerable to lead. For decades lead was a common ingredient in exterior house paint, gasoline, and even in water pipes and plumbing fixtures. Dirt around the base of homes painted prior to 1978 can accumulate high concentrations of lead. Luckily, lead accumulations are usually concentrated in the top two inches of soil.

Case History: When I was a child, I never saw a single bug in my grandmother's house near Mockingbird Lane in Dallas. Her secret? Once a year, she poured a line of chlordane dust (banned in 1988) around the foundation of her house—a common practice in those days. No insect could cross over into the house. Every year she repeated the process and she lived there from 1940 until 1995. Now consider what some fifty years of accumulated chlordane pesticide might have done to the soil around her house? Chlordane has a half life of 30 years! Additionally, exterior house paint all contained lead. Once a decade, when the paint began to crack and peel, she had the exterior clapboard siding scraped down, sanded and repainted. The lead dust and lead-paint chips rained down around the foundation of her home. Lead paint was not yet known (to the general public) to be toxic!

Paint peeling on the side of a house

Exposure to chlordane can lead to type-2 diabetes, lymphoma, prostate cancer, obesity, testicular cancer, and breast cancer. Non-cancer health effects include such aliments as migraine headaches, diabetes, insulin resistance, respiratory problems, immune-system issues, anxiety, depression, blurred vision, confusion, seizures as well as permanent neurological damage. How fun; but somehow I think having ants would have been better.

Vegetables grown in that soil today would likely be toxic. The soil would not be safe for children to play in. Then there's the problem of vapors seeping up into the house as the chemicals degrade and break down.

To protect your family's health, it's wise to test the soil around your house. If you're planning a gardening project, soil testing is vital. Sgt. Poopers soil tests are performed by certified labs. They provide insight into your soil’s structure, pH levels, and the ratio of nutrients present.


Soil Testing for Contaminates

Rusted barrelThe soil around your home or business could have become contaminated in many ways. Before your home was built, was a farm or business there that used solvents or chemicals? Perhaps a tractor dripped motor oil in the spot where you want to plant a garden. Perhaps someone dumped a tank of DDT and rinsed it out with a hose. Perhaps your home sits on an extinct golf course like Bob 'O Link along Abrams Road where '50s and '60s era pesticides were used to kill cinch bugs?

Young children in particular are vulnerable to soil-based toxins that can be absorbed through hands or feet, inhaled or in some way ingested.  While foods grown in contaminated soil may look delicious, they can absorb toxins from the soil.

  • Pesticides
  • Herbicides
  • Petroleum hydrocarbons
  • Cleaning products
  • Industrial chemicals
  • Heavy Metals
  • Radioactive compounds
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Parasites


Sources of Soil Contamination

Sgt. Poopers is a conservation company designed to manage human impact on the land. We are the biggest cause of pollution because we do things; we go places, build things, grow food. Weedkillers and bug spray residues accumulating in farmland ca become a real problem after it is purchased by developers and parceled out as residential communities. Underground tanks at gas stations, spills of petroleum hydrocarbon (contains various substances like lead, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene), manufacturing processes, and improper fertilizer application on farmland or golf courses can leak into groundwater where it can spread to nearby homes. Chemical spills due to accidents or neglect can deposit hazardous substances into the soil.

Old rusty tractor, leaking oil or gas?

Pressure-treated wood is impregnated with various poisonous compounds including arsenic and copper to prevent insects and fungi from eating it. In use, whether for construction, fencing, and above ground gardening, these toxic compounds can leach into the soil making it a no-go zone for children, animals and adults. In 2004, chromated copper arsenate, an inorganic pesticide, was banned from use in the treatment of wood used for outdoor residential structures. But it is still used in shakes, shingles, and fence posts.

PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are industrial chemicals that were banned in 1979 due to their extreme toxicity. 1.5 billion pounds of PCBs were included in a broad range of products and today PCBs contaminate the landscape worldwide. PCBs were sprayed on dirt roads to "reduce dust." They were used in the manufacture of coolants, lubricants, surface coatings, inks, adhesives, flame-retardants, and paints. They were used in electrical equipment in transformers, capacitors, insulators and circuit boards. They were used in electric appliances like TVs, refrigerators and radios. They were even used in microscopes. If your backyard is contaminated by PCBs, you can thank Monsanto, owned by the infamous Vanguard Group. 

Cigarette buttsPolycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are highly toxic environmental contaminants that can last a long time in soil. These chemicals occur naturally in coal, crude oil, and gasoline, but are also produced when coal, oil, gas, wood, garbage, and tobacco are burned. They can be deposited in soil in various ways including deliberate dumping, fuel mishandling, gasoline spills and leaks, heating oils, lubricating oils, diesel fuel, and engine oil. Naphthalene is a PAH that can be found in mothballs. Cigarette smoke and cigarette butts contains many PAHs which can contaminate soil if thrown into the dirt.

Creosote, is used to preserve telephone poles and rail road ties both of which have been used in residential settings (railroad ties are often repurposed for building terraces in landscaping). Creosote is made by distilling coal tar and is composed of numerous harmful chemicals of which about 80% are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons!

In addition to man-made pollution, there are natural sources of contaminates. Varying levels of toxic elements exist naturally in soils, like arsenic, lead, and radon.


Radioactive Isotopes in Soil

And just in case you think, "I'm not worried about my soil being radioactive in Dallas, Texas" consider that until the 1960s, a number of ceramic dishes and pottery routinely contained radioactive elements like uranium, thorium, and potassium-40 in their glaze. In particular, the Homer Laughlin China Company of Newell, West Virginia employed depleted uranium oxide to manufacture its famous "Fiestaware" red dishes and natural uranium for their white ceramic dishes until the practice was discontinued in 1972. Other types of glass popular among consumers for decades, like the green "Vaseline glass" also contained uranium.

There are other sources of radiation in the home including kitty litter.  Kitty litter is commonly made with bentonite, an absorbent clay that can include small amounts of naturally-occurring uranium and thorium, both radioactive elements.

From the turn of the 19th century until World War II, a number of medical devices and cures were sold that contained radioactive radium, from solutions and pills, to pads and x-ray devices.


Redevelopment Can Obscure Soil Toxins

You have to realize that Dallas didn't always look the way it does today. South of North Henderson, Dallas' roads were laid out on the diagonal. That area marks the extent of Dallas at the time. Turtle Creek was way out in the country. By 1940, Dallas extended to Mockingbird Lane. Lovers Lane was way out of town where sweethearts could neck undisturbed by police.

Map of Dallas, 1893

Old Dallas circa 1893. Notice the diagonal layout of streets is still there today.

Between those years and now, much has changed. Businesses, farms, rail lines, and gas stations have come and gone; furniture strippers and chrome platers, feed stores and dry cleaners, car washes and metal shops, restaurants and septic tanks.

Structures with lead plumbing and asbestos were built, lived in, decayed by the elements, and finally razed. But the residues of these structures remain in the soil and some of them are toxic.

Health Effects of Soil Contamination

 Eating vegetables grown in any kind of contaminated soil can make you sick whether from biological sources (like bacteria) or from toxic substances like lead or mercury, or toxic chemicals like petroleum hydrocarbons or PCBs. However, the most frequent harm from contaminate soils comes from direct exposure. Prolonged exposure to soil contaminates can harm people physically, especially young children. Affects can include damage to organs, the toxic accumulation in tissues, and even diseases like cancer or leukemia.


Urban Soil Contaminates Tests

Heavy Metal Screening

Determines the extractable levels of lead, cadmium, and arsenic with a full interpretation of results.

General Soil Test

Our test determines the presence of a range of key contaminates including arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury, molybdenum, nickel, selenium, zinc, and PCBs. Also provided in the report are pH and plant-available phosphorus results from the soil fertility analysis.


Soil Contaminates Testing Prices

 Soil testing for contaminates pricing


Know Before You Grow

Plants growing in healthy soil

Soil Nutrient Testing

Sgt. Poopers provides turnkey soil tests to ascertain the health of your soil. This analysis does not test for contaminates like lead, arsenic, pesticides or harmful bacteria, but is intended to measure your levels of nutrients or their lack. When it's all done, you will receive a fertilization program tailored to meet the needs of your plants!

You can waste a lot of time and effort by blindly planting before you test. If you add too much fertilizer, or the wrong PH, or make other errors, your plants will not thrive and they could even die.

Our soil tests can show you a range of vital plant growth markers:

  • Soil sampling toolpH: measures soil alkalinity or acidity. On a scale of 1 to 14, neutral is at 7. Above is alkaline or "sweet"; while below 7 is acidic, or "sour." Plant life requires a soil to be within a viable range otherwise they can’t absorb nutrients even when they are there in the soil.
  • Nitrogen (N): One of the big keys to plant growth, Nitrogen is found in all plant cells, and even in chlorophyll. Nitrogen is absorbed into the soil from the sky. Heavy rains can leach nitrogen out from the soil leaving it too acidic. Nitrogen levels in soil can be measured as "nitrate nitrogen" (NO3-N)
  • Phosphorus (P): Helps plants translate sunlight into food and stimulates growth. One of the best sources of phosphorus is manure (waste from plant-eating animals). You have to remember that before the city was here, massive herds of buffalo and other animals once roamed North Texas.
  • Potassium (K): Plants deficient in potassium lack vigor, decline in fruit production, and can succumb more easily to  disease.
  • Calcium (Ca): Root and leaf formation require calcium in proper levels.
  • Magnesium (Mg): Without magnesium, plants cannot produce chlorophyll which makes plants green and performs the amazing miracle of converting light into food. Don't you wish people could do that? "I'm hungry. Gonna go sit in the light until I'm full. Umm, delicious."
  • Sodium (Na): If Na exceeds 5%, plant growth can be impaired. Alkaline soils are improved by adding gypsum, Epsom salts or elemental sulfur.
  • Sulfur (S): Sulfur is a building block in plant protein amino acids, and enables the production of plant energy. It also enables many flavor and odor compounds in plants like cabbage and onions!
  • Conductivity: to measure soluble salts
  • Zinc (Zn): The plant hormone that regulates stem elongation and leaf expansion requires zinc.
  • Iron (Fe): Iron is a constituent of many compounds that regulate and promote growth
  • Copper (Cu): A pivotal constituent of plant enzymes.
  • Manganese (Mn): An essential nutrient that plants require for growth. Many plant systems are dependent on this nutrient, including photosynthesis, nitrogen metabolism and enzyme synthesis.
  • Boron (B): Rapidly-growing cell-wall tissue is enabled by boron.
  • Molybdenum (Mo): With molybdenum, bacteria and soil organisms are able to convert atmospheric nitrogen to nitrogen compounds in the soil.
  • Salt content: Too much soluble salt will kill plant life.
  • Organic matter (OM): Decayed plant material is the primary constituent of OM and releases many compounds into the soil including sugars, starches, proteins, cellulose, lignins and fats.
  • Detailed salinity: There are many types of salts incorporating sodium, calcium, potassium, magnesium, chlorides, nitrates, sulfates, bicarbonates and carbonates. As rock and minerals weather, salts can accumulate in the soil. Fertilizers also add salts.
  • Soil texture: The relative proportions of sand, silt or clay makes a significant difference in your soil's ability to store nutrients plus shed or retain moisture.

Our lab will provide customized recommendations for fertilizer and any needed modifications of your soil.


Child outdoors in plants

Soil Nutrient Testing Protocol

We test a coherent area of your lawn or garden that may serve a given role, e.g., front yard, back yard, play ground, garden area, or planting bed. Taking the area as a whole, we select nine core samples making a grid pattern. After removing any roots and leaves, we break down the clods, let it dry on clean newspapers, then mix the soil samples together thoroughly.

We bag up the sample and ship it to one of the world's top soil testing science departments. Their chemical analysis and testing processes generally require about two weeks. You will receive full results of the analysis and recommendations you can use to optimize your soil for plant growth.


Urban Soil Nutrient Tests

We offer two soil tests to measure nutrients in the soil. Our Basic Analysis and a Comprehensive Analysis.

Basic Nutrient Analysis

Includes soil analysis plus fertilizer recommendations.

  • pH
  • Nitrogen (N)
  • Phosphorus (P)
  • Potassium (K)
  • Calcium (Ca)
  • Magnesium (Mg)
  • Sodium (Na)
  • Sulfur (S)
  • Conductivity

Comprehensive Nutrient Analysis

Provides the most comprehensive data needed for troubleshooting most plant and soil growing issues

  • FlowerpH
  • Nitrogen (N)
  • Phosphorus (P)
  • Potassium (K)
  • Calcium (Ca)
  • Magnesium (Mg)
  • Sodium (Na)
  • Sulfur (S)
  • Conductivity
  • Zinc (Zn)
  • Iron (Fe)
  • Copper (Cu)
  • Manganese (Mn)
  • Boron (B)
  • Molybdenum (Mo)
  • organic matter
  • detailed salinity
  • textural analysis:


Soil Nutrient Testing Prices

Soil test for nutrients pricing


Soil Testing Summary

Sgt. Poopers graphic from our original 2008 website

A backyard of toxic soil is no walk in the park! Our poison control protocols are designed to protect and conserve the most precious parkland of all — the one you call home. It’s like having a park ranger for your own backyard which is why we say, “We treat your yard like a National Park!” 

Sgt. Poopers is a conservation company, so our protocols are based on the principles of conservation. Our approach is common-sense, holistic, always safe, and 100% effective. Our methodology works and you will see immediate results. On top of everything else, no contract is required. We do not use toxic chemistry that can harm people or pets. We restore the balance of nature and make living environments safe for you, children, pets, and beneficial insects like honeybees and butterflies. Please tour our website to learn more. If you have any questions, please call us today at (214) 563-6379. For your convenience, you may also request services from this site.

Steve Hall, Conservation Advocate   signature

Steve Hall
CEO & President, Sgt. Poopers
Conservation Advocate

We would like to thank you for your interest in Sgt. Poopers. We look forward to serving you in the near future!

Proudly serving neighborhoods throughout greater Dallas, Texas

Monday–Friday: 8AM–8PM
Saturday: 8AM–5PM
Sunday: 9AM–5PM

(214) 563-6379

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534 Aqua Drive, Dallas, Texas 75218 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


 Questions and Answers for Voice Search

Here are the answers for questions addressed to Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and Google Home.

Who can handle toxins in my yard?

Sgt. Poopers provides toxin control for outdoor and indoor environments in Dallas, Texas to keep people and pets safe. With eleven years experience in the safe control of toxic residues and biohazards, Sgt. Poopers can solve the worst health threats present in most Dallas homes, businesses and backyards including toxic mold and mildew, poison fungi and mushrooms, poison ivy, pesticide toxins, plus biohazards like animal waste, bacteria and viruses. Call (214) 563-6379

Who can fix pesticide toxins in Dallas, Texas?

To stop the accumulation of pesticide toxins, we replace dangerous pesticides with our human- and pet-safe pest control agent, all-natural essential oil. This superior pest control product makes it possible to suspend on-going contamination of your property with toxic synthetic pesticides which are detrimental to health. Call (214) 563-6379

Who can do soil testing in Dallas, Texas?

We can also test your soil for cancer-causing pesticides like DDT, dioxin or lead contaminants from petroleum or paints — any of which may have been deposited by previous homeowners or landowners decades before your house was even built. Call (214) 563-6379

Who can keep toxic mushrooms out of my yard in Dallas, Texas?

Dallas backyards commonly host several species of highly-toxic mushrooms which can appear overnight. Ingesting any of these poisonous fungi (loosely called "mushrooms") can not only make a human or dog severely sick, eating just one bite can result in irreversible damage to vital organs and even death. Sgt. Poopers can help protect your family and pets by finding and removing suspicious mushrooms each week when we clean. Call (214) 563-6379

Who can remove poison ivy from my yard in Dallas, Texas?

Sgt. Poopers can stop poison ivy from growing in your yard, meaning we can kill the plant — without herbicides — efficiently, economically and safely. Call (214) 563-6379


Tags: Soil Pollution, Biohazard, soil testing

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