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New homeowner concerned with safety of soil quality: 'I'm not really feeling like it's safe to just plant things here'

"There are plants that can help remove toxins from soil."

"There are plants that can help remove toxins from soil."

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A new homeowner was disturbed to discover that their soil was contaminated with rubber mulch. Since the homeowner hoped to grow edible crops in their yard, they turned to Reddit's r/gardening subreddit for advice on treating the soil.

"I just removed (almost) all of the rubber pieces, at least what I could get, but I'm not really feeling like it's safe to just plant things here—it seems like the rubber would have leached nasties into the soil," commented the homeowner who wrote the post.

Redditors agreed that rubber contamination is not safe for the growth of healthy crops and discussed solutions for removing the pieces from the soil. 

"I'd dig out as much as I could and then send samples of what's left off for contaminants testing," suggested one user. "Your local extension office should be able to recommend a lab that can do it for you."

"There are plants that can help remove toxins from soil," wrote another user.

Rubber contains harsh chemicals and heavy metals that can leach into the soil, inhibiting plant growth. Crops and flowers absorb these chemicals through their roots, and over time, the chemical buildup causes the plants to die.

Rubber mulch can also be destructive to aquatic ecosystems, as the contaminated soil can run off and leach into waterways. Ingesting these toxic chemicals is harmful to the organisms and plant life in aquatic environments

Removing and replacing the dirt is the most effective way to treat contaminated soil. In the case of rubber mulch, it's necessary to first dig out the rubber pieces. After removing as many of the pieces as possible, add organic matter to the contaminated soil to absorb any toxic substances that seeped into the ground. 

To ensure the soil is no longer contaminated, send a sample out for testing. Once you get the results, you can determine whether additional intervention is necessary.

"Let's be honest here, you can say there's no studies all day, but you're not pouring up a fresh glass of water with rubber pieces substituting as ice cubes. The rubber in the soil is no different, if it seems off it probably is," commented one Redditor.

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