Following these guidelines will help keep you healthier and cleaner. Dirt has germs, bacteria, chemicals, (including lead and arsenic which are now know to be elevated in some of our North Half Allotments) and other unhealthy things in it. Dirt and dust can be breathed in or eaten, which can be harmful to your health. So en-courage your family to follow the soil safety guidelines to reduce the amount of dirt and dust you inhale and ingest!

While visiting your allotment:

  • Wash hands and face thoroughly after working or playing in the soil, especially before eating
  • Keep children from playing in contaminated dirt
  • Cover bare patches of dirt with bark, sod or other material, or fence off area
  • Dampen dusty soils before gardening or digging for roots
  • Wash toddler toys and pacifiers often especially if dropped in the soil
  • Scrub any locally harvested roots, vegetables, and/or fruits with soap and water before consuming
  • Scrub any locally harvested roots with soap and water before consuming or putting in your mouth (used for consumption, medicines or weaving)
  • Wear gardening gloves when interacting with soils on allotments
  • Do not eat or drink in contaminated areas
  • Do not plant food crops in contaminated areas
  • Keep pets off of exposed dirt so they don’t track it into the house or your car
  • Use water and soap to wash – avoid “water-less” soaps

Before you leave your allotment :

  • Bag all clothes, towels, camping gear, and blankets that have been used at the allotment before putting them into your car
  • Dust off or wash off your shoes before getting into your car
  • Limit pets on exposed soils, wash paws before getting in vehicle

When returning home from your allotment :

  • Take off your shoes before entering your home
  • Scrub roots, vegetables, and/or fruits with soap and water before consuming
  • Wash clothes and shoes dirtied by contaminated soil separately from other clothes
  • Wash camping gear such as sleeping bags, blankets, and towels separately
  • Wash recreational and other equipment and gardening tools used such as skis, snow shoes, root diggers, knives, shovels, axes, gloves before storing
  • Eat a balanced diet. Iron and calcium help keep lead from becoming a problem in the body
  • Vacuum your car if soils are present
  • Rinse and wipe down any materials such as cedar and spruce root before processing


Some soils in Pend Oreille, Stevens, and Ferry Counties are contaminated with chemicals such as arsenic and lead. An ongoing Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study is in progress at the Up-per Columbia River. Contaminants and metals such as lead and arsenic are under investigation as to the impacts to human health and the environment from sources including smelting activates in the area. Chemicals may have come from many places, including industrial emissions, leaded gasoline, and pesticides. Arsenic and lead can cause illness, especially in children. If you have young children, talk to their pediatrician about a simple blood-lead test.

Text of this document is sourced from the Seattle and King County Public Health Guidelines and Northeast Tri County Health District:

Soil Safety Guidelines Brochure PDF