The Q&A Archives: Will Tomatoes Absorb Lead From Paint Chips?

Question: We live in a house from the 1920's. While there isn't a hugh volume of paint chips ontop of the soil, we're concerned that if any lead did leach into the soil that it would be absorbed by the tomatoe plants. We've planted Early Girl approximately 3-4 ft. away from the house's foundation.

Answer: In addition to concerns of lead being taken up by plants, there is also the concern of contamination and accidental or incidental ingestion of it simply by contact with the soil as well as by, say, poorly washed produce. However, there is no way to know whether there is lead present in the soil in a quantity sufficient to cause concern without testing it. I would strongly suggest you contact your county extension for information about lead in the soil and how to test for it as well as what to do if it is present in an unacceptable concentration.

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