Recently, citizens of Tonawanda, NY found out that their soil was contained with elevated levels of the carcinogen Benzo[a]pyrene, or BaP. This BaP may have been released from the local Coke foundry plant (The Buffalo News, 2014).
So how do you test your soil?
Image from http://aggie-turf.tamu.edu/aggieturf2/soilsample/images/soilsample.jpg
Contact your local cooperative extension office: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/
Contact your local university's agriculture program to see if they offer soil testing services.
New York City Schools recommend that all schools test their garden soil every two years for heavy metals and nutrient levels. They also give instructions on how to collect the soil for test samples.
The good thing about county extension offices is that not only will they help you with soil testing, they will offer guidance on how to plant the best garden for your type of soil. So remember, test first, then garden.
Testing Your Soil