Was at March’s Brighton Heights Community Meeting and Councilwoman Darlene Harris brought up the issues with Lead in our water. She stated that we could get a FREE lead testing kit AND that PWSA was also giving out FREE water filters.
There are two major sources of lead contamination: 1) lead-based paint where contamination may occur when paint chips from old buildings mix with the soil; and, 2) lead from auto emissions. Studies conducted in urban areas, have shown that soil lead levels are highest around building foundations and within a few feet.
Could Lead be in the Soil? Is it safe?
To minimize absorption of lead by plants a number of control measures may be taken:
- Maintain soil pH levels above 6.5. Lead is relatively unavailable to plants when the soil pH is above this level. If needed, add lime according to soil test recommendation. Lead is also less available when soil phosphorus tests are high. For information about obtaining a routine soil test, contact your local Extension office.
- Add organic matter to your soil. In soils with high lead levels, adding one-third by volume organic matter will significantly reduce lead availability. Organic compounds bind lead and make it less available to the plant. When adding organic matter, the pH should also be maintained above 6.5. Good sources of organic matter include composted leaves, neutral (non-acid) peat, and well-rotted manure. Avoid leaf mulch obtained along highways or city streets as it may contain higher than normal lead levels.
- Locate your garden as far away from busy streets or highways and older buildings as possible.
- Because of the possibility of bare soil exposure to children through hand to mouth activity, soils with lead levels exceeding 100 ppm should not be used for gardening. If soil exposure to children is not a concern, then plants can be safely eaten from soils with soil lead levels up to 300 ppm.