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What lab(s) test for toxic residues for soil in my zone 1 area?

 
Merry Bolling
Posts: 16
Location: USA, Arkansas, zone 7b
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Despite my reservations, four years ago I agreed to my husband's request to have our recently purchased home treated for termites with the pest control company Terminex. The things we do for love!

The liquid product they sprayed around the foundation was supposed to gel within minutes of application and stay in the immediate area of soil contact. Of course, the skies opened and poured down rain for over an hour just as Terminex finished and I was concerned that the chemicals spread through the soil around my home.  Therefore, I decided to wait on planting any edible plants in my zone 1 and have spent four years raising fruit trees & berry bushes, as well as perennial & annual vegetables in zones 2 & 3 (about 30 yards away around all sides of the house).

In zone 1, there were several mature trees already in place (mostly oaks & maples) and I've planted grass & flowers around the trees, as well as mulched heavily. The trees have mushrooms sprout at their bases during our wet season (Spring), but I didn't have a clue what mushroom cultivars to deliberately introduce for remediation purposes and so have not pursued that type of planting. 

Question is have I waited long enough for the soil to have "healed itself" and be basically free from the chemicals that were spilled/spread via the rain. Does anyone know what lab I can contact to pay for soil testing? Does anyone know what chemicals I should have the soil tested for (i.e. what chemicals would Terminex have used in their termite pesticide four years ago?).

Any information or suggestions would be appreciated!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Terminex should be able and willing to tell you the exact chemicals they used to treat your house.

Usually they do a ground penetrating application and a surfactant application.

This site is a good place to get information on pesticides used for this purpose. NPIC

Laboratories

Arkansas Analytical

(this is a listing of all the labs in the Little Rock area:  Yellowpages Lab Listings

This is the governing body for the state of AR.: Arkansas State Plant Board

There you go, hope this information is of help. 

Redhawk
 
Merry Bolling
Posts: 16
Location: USA, Arkansas, zone 7b
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Terminex should be able and willing to tell you the exact chemicals they used to treat your house.

Usually they do a ground penetrating application and a surfactant application. 


I did talk to the local Terminex office several years ago and they said it was the company's "secret formula" and would not tell me the chemicals involved. I will try again locally since management has changed, then take my request to the corporate level if need be. Your links for surfactant info and to the various soil labs are of much help. Thanks so much, RedHawk!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Your most welcome.

They may be more willing if you explain your concerns to them. Just make sure they know you are wanting to know about health safety from growing foods.
As long as they understand you aren't going to be suing them, they should be willing to help you out with information.  These days corporate lawyers are all about protecting the company so that may be why they won't divulge the information.

If you ever need to deter termites you can use Borax Laundry Soap (20 mule team is what I use)
If you sprinkle this powder on the soil around your foundation (exterior) you can just wait for rain to wet it into the soil or you can make a solution of 1 cup powder to 2 gallons water and soak the soil.
To protect your home from damage by termites do this on the exterior and then in the crawl space (if you have one).

To protect wood from both termites and fungi/ mildew soak the wood in the solution then let air dry before using for building.

Our in ground contact wood was treated this way and I also make a ring (aprox. 8 inches wide) around the wood pieces on the surface of the soil and let rain soak it into the soil directly next to the wood posts.
Our land has lots of termites around but they don't bother the wood I've treated this way.
Borax will also create conditions that ants can't live in.

Redhawk
 
Eric Bee
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Organic standards dictate three years after application of poisons. Those standards are incredibly conservative.

Permathrin, a common poision, supposedly has a half life of 40 days, with the max being 113 days (yes, I googled this   There are relatively few persistent pesticides in common use and when I looked up the ones for termite treatment, none of those popped up. For example, Fipronil has a half life of 4-12 hours and according to the excellent links RedHawk provided is not readily taken up by plants.

But here is my own take on it: Your exposure to those poisons simply by having your house sprayed is probably orders of magnitude larger than your exposure, four years after the fact and via plant uptake. Given the half life of most of these poisons, it has to be basically zero.

Edit: as I looked further, Imidacloprid apparently can persist for years, but is also readily broken down by water and sunlight.
 
Merry Bolling
Posts: 16
Location: USA, Arkansas, zone 7b
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Thanks for both comments, Eric & Bryant! I'm encouraged about growing edibles in my zone 1 area, though I'll still try and confirm with a soil test. And now I have Borax to add to my pest management toolkit.  
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hau Eric,  great point on half life.

The very real issue may not be the half life though but rather what components of the poison hang around after degradation.
The number one example is probably glyphosate which goes "inert" upon ground contact but the stuff can be found hanging out in the soil for years afterwards.

Some of the Termiticides have components that are known carcinogens, the testing that has been done didn't address those components for length of duration post application, as far as I have found.

My personal view is that termiticides are necessary when you have a home with a mortgage, the lender almost always has a termite inspection/ application clause in the paperwork.
This requires the borrower to keep up a "termite contract" for the duration of the mortgage, even though there are alternatives, they are not considered by mortgage contracts as viable alternatives.

We are fortunate, we don't have that problem and in the three years I've been on my land there has never been a need to use "poisons".
Last year we were amazed as we watched hundreds of thousands of termites flying by and the birds feasting on them. It was quite a sight to see all the swooping and swerving as the birds gobbled them up.
I make "sacrificial wood piles" to keep the termites away from our buildings as well as borax treating, so far it has been doing very well at keeping them away from where we don't want them.

Buzzard's Roost is a poison free zone, when we sell produce our labeling states "No poisons of any kind were used in the production of this product"  We also don't use the "Organic" labeling but prefer the "All Natural, pesticide, herbicide, artificial fertilizer free".

Redhawk
 
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