Soil Lead Testing at a High Spatial Resolution in an Urban Community Garden: A Case Study in Relic Lead in Terre Haute, Indiana
Industrial emissions, deteriorating or improperly removed lead paint, and the use of lead additives in fuel have left a substantial burden of heavy metals, such as lead, in urban soils. Much of this lead remains near the surface where it has the potential to impact human health. Exposure to lead, especially in children, can have lasting impacts on neurological development and academic achievement. Urban gardening, in particular, is an activity that could result in increased exposure to soil lead for many unsuspecting gardeners. During the summer of 2012, more than 1,061 surface soil samples were collected from an approximately 1.25 acre urban community garden in Terre Haute, Indiana. Samples were collected to evaluate the spatial distribution of lead across the community garden on the plot level. The results highlight the variability that can be seen within small areas of a former residential property, for example lead concentrations that are low (<200 parts per million [ppm]) within the same 10 x 10 foot garden plot as concentrations that are considered high (>600 ppm). Based on the results of this work, several areas of concern were identified and the community garden was reconfigured to reduce potential lead exposure to gardeners and the local community.
Speaker / Author:
Jennifer C. Latimer, MS, PhD
David Van Halen
Heather Foxx, MS