Lead Levels in Lower East Side Community Garden Soil

Is there lead contamination in LES community gardens in toxic amounts? How does the lead contamination change as you go deeper into the soil?

Intern(s):

Michelle Liu, Arianna Santos, Steven Sierra, Frankie Ackerman

Mentor(s):

Ashley Pirovano

Project Period:

2022 Summer

Team:

LES

The historical usage of Lead (Pb) has contemporary ramifications for human health– most notably communities living within urban areas and those in close proximity to industrial sites. Lead exposure poses a health risk especially to children and pregnant women and can cause neurological damage, organ harm, and poisoning (2). Common community garden activities including playing in soil, gardening, eating fruits/vegetables grown in contaminated soil, and touching hands to mouths may be pathways to Pb exposure given LES' legacy of Pb usage. The objective of this study was to analyze Pb soil levels in 3 LES community gardens (La Plaza, 6th St, Green Oasis) by taking surface samples from various locations within the gardens as well as soil cores to analyze Pb concentration over depth. X-Ray Fluorescence was then utilized to analyze Pb concentrations within the samples and then data was quantitatively graphed. This study revealed that while the majority of soil samples did not exceed the EPA's hazard level of 400 ppm, some, significantly those closer to the street, exceeded the hazard level. This information has significant health context and will be reported to the garden administration.

This page was created by BioBus Summer 2021 Jr. Scientist William Rhee.