Lead in Urban Gardens - Knowledgebase Question

Detroit, MI
Avatar for aa4235
Question by aa4235
February 16, 1998
I garden on vacant lots in Detroit where houses once stood. Though I have not yet had the soil tested for lead, there was lead-based house paint, leaded gas exhaust, and we are down wind of steel foundries, coke ovens, etc.

What are the real threats and modes of action of lead in the soil, especially with regard to vegetables for home consumption? Can you recommend a bibliography? Surely with
all the urban gardening programs in the country, some university/coop ext researchers have developedsome good information.

Answer from NGA
February 16, 1998
I found some very helpful sites about lead contamination, testing, etc.


Lead poisoning is a serious concern for urban gardeners. I recommend you get your soil tested--be sure to tell the testing agency that you want it tested for lead and other heavy metals.

If you have concerns, you may want to stick with ornamentals only in the garden, and grow vegetables in containers or raised beds filled with purchased soil. Some plants are known to take up lead--lettuce is one, I believe; hopefully, the above web sites will be useful in determining the best course of action.

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