Are there pollution standards for bagged soil?

A:

I believe you are correct to be suspicious of your bagged soil mix. Often they contain a combination of mined peat from Canada, mineral soil from building or mine sites, various agricultural wastes (rice hulls, shredded coconut husks, bark mulch). Unfortunately, bagged or potting soil mixes are not regulated to my knowledge. The Oregon Department of Agriculture only regulates products containing fertilizer. Importation of foreign soils to the US is regulated and phytosanitary certificates paper work are required, but the bagged soil you purchase at a big box store doesn't require this. The soils SHOULD be tested for concentrations of heavy metals. Directly contacting the manufacturer is your best bet. You can also look for products labeled with an OMRI certification (Organic Materials Review Institute), ensures product must comply with USDA organic rules. The Mulch and Soil Council also provides a certification - and seem to have a good program, so look out for their certification.

Additional ODA information if you interested. You may try contacting someone here if you are highly concerned. 

https://www.oregon.gov/ODA/programs/Pesticides/Fertilizers/Pages/Fertilizers.aspx
https://www.oregon.gov/ODA/shared/Documents/Publications/PesticidesPARC/SellingFertProductsQuickGuide.pdf

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