Lead, community gardens and food

Mon Mar 14 11:26:31 EST 1994

I just wanted to interject about the lead uptake of plants:

I have always been under the impression that plants can take up a certain
amount of lead from the soil.  When I was getting my first degree (ages ago)
, in Horticulture, I was taight taught that when planting a garden in the
city, or anywhere now-a-days, one should be aware of the lead content of the
soil, especially when planting and harvesting from a vegetable garden.
The plants we were taught not to plant or harvest in lead contaminated soil
were leafy veggies such as lettuce, chale, spinach.  We were advised that
such veggies as eggplant, tomatoes, etc were fine.  Unfortunately, I do
not know of any papers discussing this.  This is only what I was told at a
community college.  I have also heard that one should not use pressure treated
and especially NOT use railroad ties in raised vegetable garden beds.  The
chemicals used to treat pressure treated lumber do seep into the soil and can
be taken up by the plant.  This is especially true for railroad ties which 
are treated with creosote.  Nasty stuff.

I have also received this information from the local botanical extension
service.  Just my 2 cents worth.  I would definately look into it more in depth

With best wishes,

Lelia C. Orrell        e-mail:   orrell at umbsky.cc.umb.edu
Department of Biology
University of Massachusetts/Boston

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