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Soil Contaminants

Common mineral soil contaminants include arsenic, barium, cadmium, copper, mercury, lead and zinc.

Lead is a particularly dangerous soil component. The following table from the University of Minnesota categorizes typical soil concentration levels and their associated health risks.

Six gardening practices to reduce the lead risk

  1. Locate gardens away from old painted structures and heavily traveled roads

  2. Give planting preferences to fruiting crops (tomatoes, squash, peas, sunflowers, corn, etc.)

  3. Incorporate organic materials such as finished compost, humus, and peat moss

  4. Lime soil as recommended by soil test (pH 6.5 minimizes lead availability)

  5. Discard old and outer leaves before eating leafy vegetables; peel root crops; wash all produce

  6. Keep dust to a minimum by maintaining a mulched and/or moist soil surface



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