28 January 2014

Protect against polluted city soil

Food gardening is a mainstay of the urban green movement, but is it safe to eat vegetables grown in possibly contaminated city soil?

City soil may be indeed contaminated by pollutants like lead, but it’s easy to stop these getting into food and into you:
  • Use clean potting soil, available from nurseries, for your vegetables.
  • Grow food crops in in raised beds, or use barrier fabric to stop roots growing into potentially contaminated soil beneath.
  • Avoid growing crops directly adjacent to buildings and road verges.
  • Rinse produce well to remove soil, in 1:100 parts vinegar to water.
  • Remove outer leaves from vegetables like lettuce, and peel root vegetables like carrots.

The bottom line with this issue is that the health and environmental benefits of growing your own food far outweigh the small risks posed by growing in city soil.

Read more: Is your garden soil toxic?

Got a good green tip to share? Email me at or post on the EnviroHealth Forum – if it's a planet-saver, we'll publish it.

Olivia Rose-Innes is Health24’s EnviroHealth Editor. Read more of her columns and articles or post a question to her expert forum.


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