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What is VegeSafe?

VegeSafe is a Macquarie University community orientated program that seeks to inform people about metals and metalloids in their garden soils.

Our program provides soil metal testing for domestic and community garden soils. Participants receive a formal report and links to information and advice about "what to do next" in the event of soils containing elevated concentrations of metals and metalloids.

Our motto is "Carry on Gardening" because this is exactly what we want people to do - in the knowledge that their soils are metal free as is the produce from their gardens. So far, we have analysed over 15,000 samples from 3,200 Australian homes.

VegeSafe was launched at the Macquarie University Open Day in 2013. Sine then, we have visited, sampled and tested soils from multiple schools, community and domestic gardens from all over Australia. We receive frequent enquiries for soil sampling and related advice and have assisted, advised and given comment presentations to thousands of Australians. Our work has been covered in the media - news and gardening programs, newspapers, online articles and radio and continues to be positively received by all of our stakeholders.

Like our VegeSafe Facebook page for comments, questions and updates.

Why is it important to know about soil metals in your garden?

The majority of Australians live in populated urban areas, and the rise of industry in the last century has resulted in the widespread accumulation of metal contaminants in soils. Metal contaminants can remain in these soils for hundreds of years and may become highly concentrated, presenting potential exposure hazards to humans which may lead to adverse health effects. For example, lead is well known to have accumulated in city soils due to its former use petrol and the widespread (now discontinued) use of lead in paint.

Exposure to metals such as lead can cause permanent negative intellectual and neurological effects on children. Young children are particularly susceptible to lead exposure through increased hand to mouth activity as well as a higher absorption potential compared to adults.

The growing interest in urban gardening means that an increased number of people may be inadvertently exposing themselves to soil and dust metals. Understanding the hazards and how to deal with them will reduce exposures significantly, which is what out program aims to help people achieve so they can Carry on Gardening.