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How to participate

We are still open for testing during COIVD-19! We have modified our procedures to comply with regulations and keep our team safe. Anticipated turn-around time for results is currently 4 weeks. So, keep sending your soil for testing. We are here for those who wish to 'carry on gardening'.



The VegeSafe program began in September of 2013 at Macquarie University’s Open Day event, where we offered free soil metal testing to attendees. Since then, we have analysed over 15,000 soil samples from 3,200 Australian homes.


In order to keep the program running and accessible to all, the VegeSafe program needs your support. We ask that you consider making a small donation to cover the costs of the soil analysis, time involved, and laboratory consumables. Donations of $20 (or more!) can cover the cost for up to five samples submitted for testing. To donate, click here: Support VegeSafe


If you have a vegetable patch or are concerned about metal contamination in your backyard, we encourage you to participate. Follow these three easy steps:


Step 1: Complete the necessary VegeSafe

Consent Form


Step 2: Collect your soil samples by following our

Soil Sampling Instructions


You can also watch our brief sample collection video here



Step 3: Together with the completed Consent form, send in your soil samples to:



Professor Mark Taylor

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Faculty of Science and Engineering

Macquarie University

NSW 2109 Australia


Frequently asked questions


Q: How much soil do I need to send?


A: An ideal sample size (per sample) would be approximately the size of a cricket ball. This will easily fit in a zip-lock bag (see below: $20 note for scale). If you have small zip-lock bags the sample should take up approximately half of the bag. 




Q: What is the turnaround time for VegeSafe soil testing?

A: We strive to provide a fast turnaround time (3 - 5 weeks) for our participants. However, we can often be busy with other academic duties at Macquarie University such as teaching, research, field visits and conferences. If you have previously submitted soil samples and are concerened that you have not yet recieved your results, please contact us


Q: How many samples will my donation cover?

A: Your donation covers up to five samples, it is not per sample. You can make a donation to support our program at the following direct link:  Support VegeSafe


Q: Can I get my household dust tested at the same time?

A: Yes! Our DustSafe program provides testing of heavy metals in household vacuum dust. You are welcome to include your dust sample and your DustSafe unique ID inside your VegeSafe mailing package. To find out more, and to participate in the DustSafe program, please see  


Q: What is the dripline sample? 

A: The dripline is any point where water from your roof meets the soil. This can be a useful area to analyse as it represents the accumulation of trace elements over a large, flat area (your roof).


Q: Are my results normal? 

A: Check out our global map at Map My Environment. This mapping tool allows you to zoom to your area and compare soil and dust trace element concentrations. The data you see is from VegeSafe and DustSafe (with points double-jittered to protect participant privacy). If there isn't any data in your area, then be the first and send us a sample! 


Q: I live nearby, can I drop off my samples? 

A: Due to the current COVID-19 situation we ask that all participants mail their samples to us. We apologise for any inconvenience. 


Q: How do I get my results?

A: The results of your soil analysis will be emailed to you. Keep an eye on your junk inbox as sometimes the email can be found there. If it has been 3 - 5 weeks and you have not recieved an email, please contact us