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Fw: Heavy Metals in Garden Soil

  • Subject: Fw: [cg] Heavy Metals in Garden Soil
  • From: "Mike McGrath" MikeMcG@PTD.net
  • Date: Wed, 11 May 2005 10:54:49 -0400

----- Original Message ----- From: "Mike McGrath" <MikeMcG@PTD.net>
To: "Jack Hale" <jackh@knoxparks.org>
Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2005 10:18 AM
Subject: Re: [cg] Heavy Metals in Garden Soil


Jack:
My understanding is that some of the biggest dangers here involve kids (and adults) inhaling airborne lead whenever the soil is worked--and, of course, kids putting lead tainted soil in their mouths. Compost can't magically make this metal inert (or worse).
And as Adam mentioned a short bit back, the effects of lead on kids can be visibly heartbreaking. Lots more are often invisible; the kids simply don't grow up as smart as they would have otherwise.
If an adult wants to take that risk alone in their own garden, that's their business--just like choosing to smoke cigarettes. Making that decision for perhaps hundreds of other people is something else entirely.
I understand the desire to continue with a plan, but what's the point of creating a garden if it has a strong potential to harm people? Yes, its a pain, but have the soil hauled away and replaced--the EPA or some other arm of the gov't may even be able to help in some way--if those levels are high enough, the site may even qualify for some minor-league 'superfund' type status. Or walk away from this area and test the soil in nearby spots till you find one that's safer from the start.
As with my life-long stand against garden chemicals, I personally always prefer to err on the side of caution. If I'm wrong about my ceaseless preaching of organics for instance, some people have spent a bit more money for food and done a bit more physical work in their gardens. If the other side is wrong, people are dying long before they should, suffering a horrible quality of life at the end, and on a larger scale, our very survival as a planet is threatened.
For me, it's a no-brainer. The risk if they're wrong is just too great. I feel the same about this issue.

Judy: Best of luck with your decisions.

---Mike McG

----- Original Message ----- From: "Jack Hale" <jackh@knoxparks.org>
To: <community_garden@mallorn.com>
Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2005 9:30 AM
Subject: RE: [cg] Heavy Metals in Garden Soil


I don't want to jump on anybody in the list serve, and I acknowledge that my
point of view is somewhat more liberal than others here, but I'd like to add
a couple of points.
1. My understanding has always been that compost does not always or
typically affect soil pH and that adding organic matter to soil helps to tie
up soil lead. I'm not a chemist so all this stuff seems a bit magical, but
that's what I have heard. Regardless, Karen's statement - Compost should
not be used in gardens with high amounts of lead, compost increases the pH
and lead is absorbed more by plants under conditions of low pH. - is
actually self-contradictory. Maybe a little more research is required
before we express too much certainty.
2. My understanding of the vocabulary is that lead is toxic and too much of
it in the wrong place is hazardous. Part of the issue is deciding what
constitutes hazard. EPA has different soil lead levels for different uses.
I don't have that information handy, but suffice it to say that from their
point of view you can tolerate higher levels of lead under a parking lot
than in a garden. I don't know what is behind the Quebec standards, but
they are certainly more conservative than EPA's. Regardless, both are based
on some idea of tolerable exposure. In other words, both assume that some
exposure to lead should be considered acceptable. Both also recognize that
it is probably not possible or practical to remove all lead from the
environment. So, if we accept those connected assumptions, we can look at a
garden and decide on acceptable exposure and practical management. For
instance, if we have generally good quality soil on a site and lead levels
just over the standard we want to work with, we may decide that dilution is
better (it is certainly cheaper) than trying to find all the lead and remove
it. Soil of good tilth is increasingly rare in cities. We may want to hang
onto it and try to fix its problems rather than sending it off to become
landfill cover or something. The image of throwing the baby out with the
bathwater comes to mind.
Anyway, those of us who want healthier cities are in a battle on lots of
fronts. Here's to finding good strategies that work well in our situations.
JH

Jack N. Hale
Executive Director
Knox Parks Foundation
75 Laurel Street
Hartford, CT 06106
860/951-7694
f860/951-7244


-----Original Message-----
From: community_garden-admin@mallorn.com
[mailto:community_garden-admin@mallorn.com]On Behalf Of Mike McGrath
Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2005 8:40 PM
To: Deborah Mills; adam36055@aol.com; community_garden@mallorn.com
Subject: Re: [cg] Heavy Metals in Garden Soil

Yes, please; the only sure way to make lead safe is to cart it away.
---McG
----- Original Message -----
From: "Deborah Mills" <deborah@greencure.org>
To: <adam36055@aol.com>; <community_garden@mallorn.com>
Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2005 7:57 PM
Subject: Re: [cg] Heavy Metals in Garden Soil


I totally agree with Karen Jones and Adam's words.

Deborah
----- Original Message -----
From: <adam36055@aol.com>
To: <community_garden@mallorn.com>
Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2005 3:51 PM
Subject: Re: [cg] Heavy Metals in Garden Soil


Again, friends, lead is bad news, and unless you have really careful
gardeners who really, really REALLY watch their kids, you have a dangerous
situation to deal with. I mean how can you tell a kid not to take a
sunflower home to Mommy, even though it's filled with and has to be
disposed as toxic waste because of the lead it has soaked up? Do you have
to paint a "Death's Head," on its face?
I love this list, and the ingenuitiy of many of the gardeners, but when
it
comes to kids and a really nasty environmental poison, caution and the
most
prudent practices have to be followed. Karen Jones is really right about
lead - please listen to her.


Everbest,
Adam Honigman
Volunteer
Clinton Community Garden



-----Original Message-----
From: Karen Jones <k.jones@uwinnipeg.ca>
To: community_garden@mallorn.com
Sent: Tue, 10 May 2005 12:42:29 -0500
Subject: [cg] Heavy Metals in Garden Soil


We got our urban garden tested for heavy metals last year and found lead
119 ppm, the standards we used werethose of the government of Quebec,
which has the strictest standards in Canada.They consider land to be
toxic at 130 ppm. Lead will accumulate in leaves (not petioles) and
roots. If you peel carrots they are safe to eat because the lead
accumulates near the epidermis. Rhubarb is safe to eat. Lettuces,
Spinach, Cabage etc. is not safe to eat. All fruits are safe to eat,
because plants somehow do not let heavy metals into the seeds. Canola
and Sunflowers are good for remediation, but they then must be treated
as toxic waste. Compost should not be used in gardens with hight amounts
of lead, compost increases the pH and lead is absorbed more by plants
under conditions of low pH. Children under two should not be permitted
into these gardens at all, apparently 25% of young children eat soil
(pica) and children accumulate heavy metals at faster rates than
adults. You may accumulate lead all your life and then when some
tramautic physical event occurs the lead will leach out of your bones
and you begin to lose your way in life. Please remember that no levels
of lead are safe. You have to have a really educated group of gardeners
to be able to garden safely where heavy metals are concerned. Raised
beds, are they sustainable? I don't think so. The David Suzuki
Foundation helped us to interpret the results. Karen


______________________________________________________
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______________________________________________________
The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of
ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and
to
find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org

To post an e-mail to the list:  community_garden@mallorn.com

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your subscription:
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______________________________________________________
The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of
ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and
to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org


To post an e-mail to the list:  community_garden@mallorn.com

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your subscription:
https://secure.mallorn.com/mailman/listinfo/community_garden

______________________________________________________
The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's
services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find
out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org


To post an e-mail to the list: community_garden@mallorn.com

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your subscription:
https://secure.mallorn.com/mailman/listinfo/community_garden


______________________________________________________
The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org


To post an e-mail to the list: community_garden@mallorn.com

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your subscription: https://secure.mallorn.com/mailman/listinfo/community_garden

______________________________________________________
The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org


To post an e-mail to the list:  community_garden@mallorn.com

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your subscription:  https://secure.mallorn.com/mailman/listinfo/community_garden





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