INDIANAPOLIS, Sept. 27 (UPI) — As U.S. city dwellers turn more and more to home gardens to ease their monthly food bills, experts are warning that urban soils may be seriously contaminated.
Scientists at Indiana University say city soil may be contaminated with lead and they advise investigating the legacy of contamination in soil before planting and eating, a university release said.
“Most surface contamination in urban settings like Baltimore, Brooklyn (N.Y.), Detroit or Indianapolis is from harmful metals, especially lead, and tends to be found near roadways, older homes or lead smelters,” geochemist Gabriel Filippelli, professor of earth sciences at the university, said. “Sources of contamination can be automobile exhaust, degraded paint, tire and vehicle debris, industrial emissions or other products of human technology.”
Filipelli urges 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.
“Urban gardens are powerful tools for personal health and for neighborhood revitalization,” Filippelli said. “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.
“Environmental awareness can ensure that a garden is a healthy place to work and that food is safe to eat and share,” he said.
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