The Berrien County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services are partnering to host a SoilSHOP event on July 10.

Berrien County residents are encouraged to bring soil samples from their garden or yard for lead testing. Although the levels of lead here in Berrien County has gone down, high exposure to lead can cause a variety of health problems.

BCHD’s Dawn Poindexter is encouraging residents to come to the event and help to provide their children a safe summer while outdoors.

“High exposure to lead can cause a variety of serious health problems, especially for children while their bodies are growing,” Poindexter said. “So we encourage community members to bring the soil to be tested for lead so they can enjoy their backyards and play spaces without worrying this summer.”

According to Poindexter, the Berrien County Health Department has seen elevated lead levels in children in the area. High lead levels in the soil can be easily exposed by playing, gardening, or consuming food from a home garden.

Poindexter did note that levels of lead in the area has gone down, but they want to be cautious of this dangerous material.

“We’re trying to push as we have seen elevated lead levels in the children in the area. We’re trying to encourage community members to drop by and get their children lead tested and we’re checking the soil because we want to make sure the children are safe.”

On July 10 from 11 am to 2 p.m. at the Benton Harbor Farmers Market, residents can bring a cup of soil for free lead testing, and receive results in 15 minutes. If lead is detected, the MDHHS will notify the family and encourage them to seek a physician immediately.

For more information, contact the MDHHS or the Berrien County Health Department at 269-926-7121.