Cinnaminson, NJ, June 8th, 2016
In cities across the United States and Canada, individuals and community organizations have been converting abandoned lots into urban gardens. These urban gardens provide fresh fruits and vegetables while removing urban blight, but in some instances these gardens could contain high levels of lead and other hazardous materials.
While lead is a naturally occurring element, in many urban environments it can be found in high concentrations in the soil. This is primarily due to the past use of lead-based paints that degraded over time and settled into the surrounding soil. Lead was also used in gasoline and as auto emissions settled, it too could increase soil lead levels. Although the use of lead has been dramatically reduced in the past several decades, the lead contamination that did occur persists in many areas.
“Urban gardeners are primarily at risk of lead exposure through the ingestion of contaminated soil and from breathing lead-tainted dust,” said Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President of Marketing at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “Some fruits and vegetables can accumulate more lead than others, so eating some produce from these gardens could also be a concern.”
Lead is not the only potential exposure risk in urban gardens. Other heavy metals could also be present as well as chemical contaminants depending on past industrial uses of the land. Some urban gardens have also created raised planting beds to grow crops that utilize old pressure treated lumber as borders. Wood treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) contains chromium, copper and arsenic that can leach into the surrounding soil.
For those hoping to establish an urban garden or already have one in place, having the soil tested for lead, other heavy metals and other potential contaminants depending on the past use of the land is highly recommended. If contamination is found, the soil can be removed and replaced or other gardening methods can be implemented to help reduce human exposure risks. EMSL offers soil testing services and also recently sponsored an online video about urban gardening and lead exposure risks that can be seen at: https://youtu.be/xDO2Qp009ig.
To learn more about lead or other environmental, health and safety testing services, please visit www.EMSL.com, call (800)220-3675 or email info@EMSL.com.
About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of environmental, indoor air quality, consumer product and materials testing services and products for professionals and the general public. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies.