Urban community gardens worldwide provide significant health benefits to those gardening and consuming fresh produce from them. Urban gardens are most often placed in locations and on land in which soil contaminants reflect past practices and often contain elevated levels of metals and organic contaminants. Garden plot dividers made from either railroad ties or chromated copper arsenate (CCA) pressure treated lumber contribute to the soil contamination and provide a continuous source of contaminants. Elevated levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) derived from railroad ties and arsenic from CCA pressure treated lumber are present in the gardens studied. Using a representative garden, we 1) determined the nature and extent of urban community garden soil contaminated with PAHs and arsenic by garden timbers; 2) designed a remediation plan, based on our sampling results, with our community partner guided by public health criteria, local regulation, affordability, and replicability; 3) determined the safety and advisability of adding city compost to Boston community gardens as a soil amendment; and 4) made recommendations for community gardeners regarding healthful gardening practices. This is the first study of its kind that looks at contaminants other than lead in urban garden soil and that evaluates the effect on select soil contaminants of adding city compost to community garden soil.
Heiger-Bernays, Wendy J.; Fraser, A.; Burns, V.; Diskin, K.; Pierotti, D.; Merchant-Borna, K.; McClean, M.; Brabander, D.; and Hynes, H.P.
"Characterization And Low-Cost Remediation Of Soils Contaminated By Timbers In Community Gardens,"
Proceedings of the Annual International Conference on Soils, Sediments, Water and Energy:
Vol. 14, Article 24.
Available at: http://scholarworks.umass.edu/soilsproceedings/vol14/iss1/24