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Got Heavy Metals in Your Soil?

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Got Heavy Metals in Your Soil?

Urban gardens have become a popular pastime for city dwellers looking to add a touch of beauty and homegrown vegetables into their lives. However, the chances of toxins lurking below your homegrown tomatoes and carrots are dangerously high. Unhealthy concentrations of heavy metals in urban gardening soil are becoming an increasing concern in metropolitan areas throughout the United States. Read on to learn more about where these toxins came from and what you can do about them.

What are heavy metals?

Heavy metals are a group of metals that are toxic to humans and animals if ingested in high quantities. Lead, mercury, copper, zinc, cadmium, nickel and iron are some of the more common heavy metals that present a danger to the food chain. These toxic metals can cause serious disorders in the human nervous system, as well as being detrimental to the blood system.

Most heavy metals occur naturally in trace amounts in all earth. Lead, for example, can be found at an average rate of 10 parts per million (ppm) in all surface agricultural soil. It can range from as little as 7 ppm to as much as 20 ppm naturally. Lead levels above this amount are usually a result of industrial contamination from lead-based paint and auto emissions.

Sources of lead exposure

Lead contamination in soil is highest around building foundations and near highly trafficked streets. “It comes mostly from past historical use. A lot of it is industrial and anything that has to do with heavy auto equipment,” says expert Allison Turner, who published a paper last year on Urban Agriculture and Soil Contamination through the Center for Environmental Policy and Management at the University of Louisville.

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Networx.com empowers people to make educated, economical and Earth-friendly renovation and home repair choices. We are a community of homeowners, renters and contractors who are committed to sharing home improvement expertise and experience.

35 comments

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1:22AM PDT on Mar 23, 2012

HOW DO YOU GET RID OF THEM! I WANT TO START A GARDEN THIS SUMMER. I WILL DO MY RESEARCH. THANKS SO MUCH FOR INFORMATION.

5:01PM PDT on Mar 22, 2011

Grow almost anything indoors.
How to Grow Tomatoes And Peppers Under Indoor Lamps

9:10AM PDT on Oct 23, 2010

anyway to remove the containments from the soil?

9:47PM PDT on Oct 1, 2010

Thank You. Thanks for the tip: Washing produce with vinegar and water or soap will take the lead off, and possibly the other metals. Wash the produce, do not leave the dirt on, when delling with heavy metal contaminated soil.

9:06AM PDT on Sep 27, 2010

Very interesting! Thanks for the post!

3:24AM PDT on Sep 23, 2010

Very important article . I learned alot.

8:47AM PDT on Sep 21, 2010

Thanks for reading the article that I posted from Networx. Alexandra- according to the author of the article, heavy metals do get absorbed into more watery plants, like lettuce. You can mitigate the risk by peeling vegetables that have thicker skins. Thanks for reading!

7:26PM PDT on Sep 18, 2010

Buen comentario.

5:08PM PDT on Sep 16, 2010

My father died of heavy metals poisoning thirty years ago......

10:32AM PDT on Sep 16, 2010

I had never given this a thought..but my house has been here for over 100 years so I should be ok. The thing I won;t do is use the compost from our local compost area. The grass clippings that have been treated with poison sprays..are just covered with dirt and the following year it is nice looking compost..but it still contains the poisons from all the sprays.

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