The Q&A Archives: Battery Contaminated Soil

Question: My husband decided to burn some trash in our vegetable garden this winter. I happened to notice that there were apparently some batteries in the trash (about 5 AA batteries) as I found them laying in the soil and they were burned to a crisp. I was wondering if the soil is now contaminated. With all the talk about not putting batteries in the landfills I certainly don't want to poison my family with contaminated vegetables. Should I forget about planting a garden this spring?

Answer: Unfortunately, I am not an expert on soil contaimination from batteries although I believe they contain heavy metals which will persist in the soil for a long period of time. It is a simple matter to test for the presence of such contaminents, and the extent of the problem and the necessary clean-up procedures would be determined by the test results. I would suggest you promptly contact your county extension and/or your local soil conservation service for advice. I would also strongly suggest you not eat any produce from that garden until the area has been tested, cleaned, retested and deemed suitable for food crop production.

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