heavy metals & mushrooms

Rebecca Belling rebellin at vt.edu
Fri Oct 1 10:53:04 EST 1999


If you have some of those "blue" mushroomsm that you wouldn't mind sharing,
please, stop over at the Mycology lab--I'd love to take a look at them.  I'm
sure you saw my response to the original post--I'm interested in the question
myself, and I'm right here at VT--so feel free to call, email, or whatever!

Creed Taylor wrote:

> allen lutins writes:
> > National Public Radio this morning had a story on elevated lead and
> > arsenic levels in the soil of a North Carolina residential
> > neighborhood.  The source of these contaminants was the prior
> > existence of an apple orchard on the site, to which lead arsenate had
> > been heavily applied for about 100 years.  The reporter mentioned that
> > such heavy applications of lead arsenate used to be common in such
> > orchards.
> > I am wondering if heavy metals such as lead and arsenic accumulate in
> > the fruiting bodies of mushrooms?  I heard warnings years ago to avoid
> > mushrooms growing in old cemeteries for precisely this reason (heavy
> > metals and other toxic substances were used in embalming fluids for
> > centuries).  This is of particular concern to us mycophagists, because
> > here in the northeast morels are commonly sought in old apple
> > orchards.
> Allen, et al,
> As far as a reply "based on knowledge, rather than speculation", well,
> sorry. (Although I do think there are quite a few on this list who might
> provide this).
> Anyway, I heard the same report, wondered the same question and have heard
> similar caveats involving graveyards and old orchards (some of my best fall
> fungal finds come from old orchards--delicious with grouse from same, by
> the way). It would stand to reason that an organism with as potentially as
> large a nutrient-gathering absorption modus as mycelia would indeed
> encounter exponentially larger amounts of trace "nutrients", and thus the
> fruiting bodies of same would exhibit this.
> I've read that commonly-collected edible fungi were found to contain lethal
> quantities of [strontium 90?] in and around Hiroshima in the seasons
> following the US attack on Japan. And that fungi as far away as Sweden
> contained dangerous quantities of several radioactive compounds following
> the meltdown of Chernobl a few years ago.
> The fact that certain fungi growing around abandoned manganese mines not
> too far from where I now sit are a certain color of blue has intrigued me
> over the last few years for the same reason.
> I'd love to hear some of the views of scientists on this list. And sorry
> about the speculative nature of this reply--just couldn't help it.
> Fascinating question.
> Cheers,
> C r e e d   T a y l o r
> ________________
> Art Director
> Electronic Communications
> University Relations
> 102 Media Virginia Tech
> Blacksburg VA
> USA 24061
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> 540/231-8638

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