Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Urban gardeners beware: There may be lead in your soil and food

28.09.2010
Not since victory gardens helped World War II era Americans on the home front survive food shortages have urban gardens been as necessary and popular as they are today. With more food production in cities, the safety of the produce grown there becomes increasingly important.

As city dwellers across the country are harvesting fruits and vegetables for family consumption and planning ahead for the next planting season, geochemist Gabriel Filippelli, Ph.D., professor of earth sciences at the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, warns that urban soil may be contaminated with lead. He advises investigating the legacy of contamination in soil before planting and eating.

"Most surface contamination in urban settings like Baltimore, Brooklyn, Detroit or Indianapolis is from harmful metals, especially lead, and tends to be found near roadways, older homes or lead smelters. Sources of contamination can be automobile exhaust, degraded paint, tire and vehicle debris, industrial emissions or other products of human technology," said Filippelli, who is an international leader in the emerging field of medical geology.

He encourages urban gardeners to study a map of their metropolitan area and determine potential soil contamination risk by proximity to busy streets, major roadways, freeways, dilapidated painted structures or older industrial facilities.

Gardens with no or low levels of lead contamination as determined by location or with test results of less than 200 parts per million (ppm) can be abundantly planted, but may benefit from high phosphate fertilizer which immobilizes metals like lead.

For gardens at medium risk based on location or soil tested at 200-500 ppm, he recommends covering the soil, planting in raised bed settings, and mulching between beds to reduce the risks of tracking lead-rich soil onto the plots or into the home.

For gardens at high lead risk or found to have lead levels of over 500 ppm, he counsels proceeding with caution as contamination could be coming from the soil below and the air above. While taller fruit plants are probably safe to consume, root vegetables and leafy greens like lettuce and kale are not, mainly because of the difficulties of cleaning this produce thoroughly before consumption. In this setting, raised-bed planting is critical, as is ensuring mulch or ground cover between beds and extending for 10 feet around the perimeter of the garden.

The produce of all urban gardens, even those at low risk of contamination, should be washed carefully.

"Urban gardens are powerful tools for personal health and for neighborhood revitalization. These plots should be encouraged but need to be tended with special care to ensure that lead does not adhere to the food children and adults are consuming," said Filippelli.

This season, Filippelli and School of Science students are analyzing lead levels in multiple soil samples from an initial 25 urban gardens. They hope to acquire funding to test many more urban plots beginning this autumn to inform urban dwellers, policy makers and researchers.

"Environmental awareness can ensure that a garden is a healthy place to work and that food is safe to eat and share," said Filippelli who has studied lead contamination in urban soil for almost a decade.

The School of Science at IUPUI is committed to excellence in teaching, research, and service in the biological, physical, behavioral and mathematical sciences. The School is dedicated to being a leading resource for interdisciplinary research and science education in support of Indiana's effort to expand and diversify its economy. For more information visit www.science.iupui.edu.

Cindy Fox Aisen | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.iupui.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope
23.10.2017 | University at Buffalo

nachricht Scientists track ovarian cancers to site of origin: Fallopian tubes
23.10.2017 | Johns Hopkins Medicine

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Shrews shrink in winter and regrow in spring

24.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>