Diesel Range Organics in the Garden
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Making Sense of Regulatory Standards
No official standards have been established in North Carolina for an acceptable level of DROs in garden soils, specifically. The NC guidelines below (used to clean up old industrial sites) can help you determine whether DRO levels in your garden might need more attention.
Through testing, you may find DRO levels greater than 10 ppm. This does not mean that all of your garden soil is contaminated. Contamination “hotspots” can occur, and there are actions you can take.
Health Impacts of DROs
Continuous or frequent exposure to DROs or other petroleum-based compounds can increase your risk of health problems. Effects from exposure to DROs depend on their concentration in the soil, the frequency, and duration of exposure, as well as the specific types of DROs that are present in the soil.
Some DRO compounds are suspected to cause cancer. Other health effects include respiratory system effects such as lung inflammation or difficulty breathing, decreased liver and kidney function, neurological system effects, and eye damage. DRO- contaminated soil may also irritate the skin.
Reduce DRO Exposure in the Garden
— Take steps to prevent or limit stormwater from running off into your garden.
— Tilling the ground can help to limit DRO hotspots.
— Add compost or other organic matter from a contaminant-free source. Check the NC Composting Council website to find STA or OMRI certified compost.
— If you decide to build raised beds in your garden, make sure to place landscape fabric between the ground and the new soil in order to strengthen the separation barrier.
— Conduct a soil safety training to teach exposure reduction strategies to all garden users.
— Visit our website below for our factsheet on 10 Healthy Garden Habits.
How to test your soil and interpret the results
Still have questions about testing soil for DROs?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This factsheet was created by the Duke University Superfund Research Center’s Community Engagement Core with the goal of helping garden managers, Extension agents, Master Gardeners, and home gardeners identify, understand, and manage risks associated with chemical contamination that may be present in garden soils.
This work was supported through the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences P42 Multiproject Center Grant program, grant number P42ES010356.