Seven million more households will grow their own fruits, vegetables, herbs and berries this year according to the National Gardening Association–a 19 percent increase over last year–but health officials, soil scientists and environmental engineers, according to a New York Times report, are concerned the increasing popularity in gardening will put more people at risk for lead poisoning.
“You won’t know if you’re at risk unless you test your soil,” says Murray McBride, a professor of soil chemistry at Cornell University.
The New York Times reports hazardous amounts of lead have been documented in backyard and community gardens in New York as well as in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Washington since 2003. Lead-laden soil has been found not only in inner city neighborhoods but also suburban areas.
The Times report also advises gardeners how to go about testing for lead, and it suggests a few safer approaches to planning gardens.
To read the full report, click here.