For Urban and Suburban Gardeners, Lead Is A Concern

Due to the economy’s current state of commotion, as well as the growing trend and influence of the local food movement, there has been a significant rise in the planting of home gardens. According to the National Gardening Association, 7 million people (a 19 percent increase from last year) are setting aside a small patch of soil for vegetables, fruit, and herbs. Despite the positive implications of having a more health-conscious nation, officials are concerned about the surprising prevalence of lead in urban and suburban soil.

There is a legacy not only of lead paint, but also of leaded gasoline, lead plumbing, and lead arsenate pesticides being present in soil. Food grown in contaminated dirt is toxic to eat, and the dust the soil generates is toxic to inhale. Detectable only with soil tests, the presence of lead doesn’t mean you should abandon your garden project, but you may need to make a change in plot design, the crops you grow, and the type of soil you use. For more help in testing your soil, contact your local public health department or county extension services; they will then either test it for you, or refer you to someone else who can.

To see the full New York Times article on lead contamination in soil, follow this link:


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