Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Edible Urban Plants Found To Contain Lead

Date:
November 24, 2003
Source:
Northwestern University
Summary:
Chicago has one of the highest rates of lead poisoning in the United States, an extremely persistent health problem that particularly plagues urban areas. Now a new study by Northwestern University researchers shows that edible plants grown in urban gardens could contain potentially hazardous amounts of lead.

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Chicago has one of the highest rates of lead poisoning in the United States, an extremely persistent health problem that particularly plagues urban areas. Now a new study by Northwestern University researchers shows that edible plants grown in urban gardens could contain potentially hazardous amounts of lead.

Related Articles


Kimberly A. Gray, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northwestern University, and her team tested a variety of plants cultivated in Chicago residential gardens rich with lead-contaminated soil. They found that leafy vegetables and herbs were highly likely to also be contaminated with lead.

The findings were published online by The Science of the Total Environment and will appear in an upcoming print issue of the journal.

The researchers harvested fruiting plants, leafy greens, herbs and root vegetables from 17 gardens, washed and dried the plants, and then separated root, shoot and fruit before analyzing them for lead content.

While the majority of the lead was concentrated in the roots, some lead was detected in shoots, which is often the portion of the plant that people eat. Gray's team calculated what amount of lead would be ingested by consuming some of the herbs such as cilantro. They found that those levels exceeded what would be excreted in children or women, which means lead would be stored in the body. These findings are very important for children and women of childbearing age.

"We are concerned about the edible portions of leafy vegetables and herbs that were found to contain lead," said Gray. "It is important that urban gardeners locate fruit and vegetable gardens away from buildings, test the lead levels in their soils and develop strategies to ensure safety for them and their children."

The lead concentration in the fruit of other plants, such as strawberries and tomatoes, was not found to be hazardous. Root vegetables, such as carrots and onions, are likely to have high levels of lead, but the very small sample size did not allow the researchers to draw a conclusion about this group.

Much of the soil's lead contamination comes from deteriorated paint, past use of lead-containing gasoline and industrial air pollution. Lead in soil does not biodegrade or decay.

The study grew out of an earlier federally funded, two-year phytoremediation project in Chicago's West Town community in which Gray and colleagues wanted to see if green plants could remove lead from contaminated soil or, at a minimum, stabilize the lead in the soil to reduce exposure of humans and animals to the toxin.

Other authors on the paper are Mary E. Finster, a Northwestern University graduate student working with Gray, and Helen Binns, M.D., an associate professor of pediatrics at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine.

The research was supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Northwestern University. "Edible Urban Plants Found To Contain Lead." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 November 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031124071126.htm>.
Northwestern University. (2003, November 24). Edible Urban Plants Found To Contain Lead. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031124071126.htm
Northwestern University. "Edible Urban Plants Found To Contain Lead." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031124071126.htm (accessed March 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) — A lioness in Pakistan has given birth to five cubs, twice the usual size of a litter. Queen gave birth to two other cubs just nine months ago. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Using motion tracking technology, researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are trying to establish an optimum horse riding style to train junior jockeys, as well as enhance safety, health and well-being of both racehorses and jockeys. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Two Andean bear cubs are unveiled at the U.S. National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Alicia Powell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

AFP (Mar. 25, 2015) — Experts are gathering in Botswana to try to end the illegal wildlife trade that is decimating populations of elephants, rhinos and other threatened species. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins