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Is Soil Pesticide Testing Worth the Effort?

The publication of “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carlson in 1962, documented the environmental damage caused by the indiscriminate use of pesticides (especially DDT), Since then there have been many important Federal laws and regulations passed and enforced in order to curtail pesticide use and production. Have these efforts been worth it?

1. An Overview of pesticide testing

The banning of DDT alone has helped many important bird species to return from endangered, or even near extinct status to healthy populations once again. That legacy on its own is a worthy effort. However, the legacy of change brought about by pesticide testing and regulation has improved the quality of our land, water, air and human health as well. By identifying dangerous levels of these toxins in our soils and the products of our soils we have helped to improve the quality and length of life for ourselves and many other animal species.

Pesticides and herbicides are still in use and they help to prevent tremendous crop losses every year. However, chemical, biological and genetic modifications to them over the years have greatly lowered their toxicity. Our continued use of pesticide testing helps maintain important regulations while also preventing the use of banned chemicals. Ongoing studies continue to identify the sources of toxins to all kinds of life.

If you find yourself in need of soil testing for pesticides, employing a soil testing lab to help you collect soil samples and analyze them will ensure that you are in good hands throughout the process.

Although soil testing for pesticides is vital to determining soil health, studies show that errors in sampling are 10 times more likely than errors in analysis. For that reason, when it is necessary to test for soil contamination and for a wide range of potential pollutants, choosing an effective method of sampling is vital. The two most effective methods are Incremental Sampling Methodology (ISM) and Multi-Incremental Sample preparation (MIS).

In the testing procedures you can specify with the lab all mutually agreed upon contaminants to be identified. They will follow a well established set of procedures so that you can be certain there will be no cross contamination and you will receive highly accurate results. Additionally, labs will provide you with a detailed report of the precise levels of every contaminant, along with an analysis and explanation of all of their results. Soil testing labs also know where you can get help with any necessary next steps.

2. How is pesticide testing helpful?

There are many vital reasons to pursue soil pesticide testing. Sample tests will show us whether agricultural land has experienced soil contamination and is dangerous to raise crops on. Tests are also able to determine whether construction lands are dangerous to build on and whether any of these lands need remediation in order for them to be safe for their intended uses. Similar issues can also be revealed through stormwater testing, especially of waters draining from agricultural lands, but also potential industrial sites or waste dump sites.

In other cases it is important to know whether products grown in certain soils or in fields that have been sprayed with pesticides, retain any dangerous levels of chemicals that would be dangerous to people, livestock or the environment.

3. Why is pesticide testing important for soil?

The benefits of pesticide regulation and testing have been clearly confirmed and firmly established through the course of numerous decades. Pesticide risk assessments evaluate how pesticides affect the living organisms they were not intended to kill through long term exposure and exposures to varying amounts of pesticides. In this way we gain great understanding of how these chemicals work to kill the intended pests while minimally affecting the health of other living organisms, including humans. Studies also determine whether pesticides affect the plants in the soils to see if they may delay germination and growth and how vigorous and healthy these plants grow.

Regulation has led to huge reductions in the production and use of dangerous chemicals. While regular testing of our air, soil, water, food, wildlife and human organs and bodies has helped identify remaining areas of soil contamination as well as pesticide dump sites. These efforts have in turn led to improvements in overall environmental, human and wildlife health. We must continue to follow these regulations and maintain a full slate of soil testing for pesticides in order to continue to protect and ensure the safety of our environment, human health as well and our most vital agricultural resources.

4. Conclusion

Torrent Laboratory offers both ISM and MIS sampling methods as well as the full array of soil contamination pesticide testing methods which includes testing for organochlorine and organophosphorus pesticides and herbicides.

Multi-Incremental Sampling has several advantages:

  • Less variability  
  • Higher reproducibility
  • Reduces likelihood of need to re-sample 
  • Provides option for volatile compositing
  • Greater confidence in decision-making


Torrent Laboratory has all the equipment necessary to prepare samples and has been performing MIS/ISM sample preparation since 2008.

Torrent Laboratory provides the region’s most advanced capabilities:

  • Fastest TATs in the industry
  • Gold standard certifications with California and the Department of Defense
  • Unrivaled technical and customer support
  • Unparalleled on-time performance
  • Impeccable quality
  • Competitive pricing