Saturday, March 26, 2011

Gardeners be aware of the Ghost of lead products past.

Turning the Compost
As the time passes from March to April people in this corner of the New England states start thinking about summer and all that it brings.   New England summer  is a magical time full of boating, bike riding, golf, hiking and much more; including my passion of gardening.  Playing in the dirt makes me as happy today as it did as a young girl.  No longer am I pushing my brother's trucks and gadgets around; instead I am moving soil with hoes, shovels and other gardening tools.  Thoughts of the garden and soil always makes me happy but a new article has me a bit concerned as to "what lies beneath" all that green lushness.
An article I read from "Huffpost Green" titled "Urban Gardens Tainted with Lead, Arsenic" I learned that remnants of lead paint, run off from roofs, leaded gasoline and other lead tainted products have contaminated soils in urban area.  Areas closest to roadways, around the drip edge of roof lines and soil that comes in contact with contaminated wood products tend to test the highest.  It isn't a surprise to have one area of a yard test higher for contaminants than others.  Indianapolis tests show that approximately 9 out of every 10 urban gardens test positive while in Boston 4 of every 5 urban are testing positive. Surprisingly enough New York City has low levels of contamination, perhaps due to most garden soils being trucked in or being made up of good quality compost.

The good news is that the testing levels are rather low and plants don't tend to draw lead up into the plant itself.  So what is a person to do and why should we be concerned about these contaminates.  First off you should wash your hands after gardening and wash produce before serving or storing.  Don't  wear garden shoes into the house, leave the contaminated soils outside the door.

We live in an older home, more than 170 years old, which has seen a lot of abuse when it comes to questionable building products I am sure.  Now that I have read this article not only will I have my soils testing for levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium but will also ask for a test of lead and arsenic.

No comments: