Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lead in the Garden...

Deborah's Garden
Urban gardening has really caught on here in Galveston. Perhaps it is all part of the trend towards organic, healthy, locally grown food. I’m not really in to trends all that much but, given that we have an urban garden, I guess you can lump us in to this category as well.

Our main satisfaction is knowing that we grew the stuff ourselves. We also like the idea that our veggies are fresh and “basically” chemical free. That’s why I kinda freaked out when I read this article about lead hotspots in urban gardens.

Here’s an excerpt from the article…

Urban gardening is not without risks. Many garden plots within cities were previously inhabited by residences or industrial buildings that disposed of toxic chemicals on site, creating potential health hazards from the use of lead in paint, gasoline and industrial activities.

To properly assess the risk of soil contamination in urban gardens, researchers from Wayne State University analyzed the lead content in soil across a local urban garden plot and evaluated the results of several sampling strategies, some of which failed to detect a lead “hotspot” in one corner of the plot.

Those of you that read my drivel know that our garden is located on a site previously occupied by an old house. It was knocked down by Hurricane Ike and later demo’ed and hauled off. I’m pretty sure this house had lead paint inside and out. The question now is – where did it go?

Before
After
According to the article, ingesting or inhaling even small amounts of lead can cause neurological disorders in children and adults. Not only is lead more easily absorbed into children’s growing bodies, they can have higher exposures because they are more likely to accidentally ingest contaminated soil when playing outside.

It’s at this point that I wonder why I read this stuff. Just makes me crazy. Plus – any neurological disorders I’m currently experiencing seem to be adequately controlled by the liberal use of Miller Lite

The article goes on to give recommendations on soil testing and how to find “lead hotspots” (i.e. areas where soil levels exceed EPA limits of 400 ppm).




The good news…
The author goes on to say – the highest risk of exposure generally comes from dust and soil sticking to unwashed vegetables, not from direct uptake into the vegetable plants themselves. The easiest way to reduce this risk is to thoroughly wash fresh vegetables, especially leafy plants, before eating them.

This last bit of info is important and another good reason to wash all fruits and vegetables before consuming them. Even those that come from the backyard!!!

1 comment:

Elizabeth Barrow said...

I would be interested to know if you test your soil and what the results are.