How Does Polluted Soil Affect Vegetables? — Chromatography Explores

Feb 21 2018 Read 1605 Times

Growing your own vegetables is one of the simplest and cheapest methods of cutting down on food costs. Also, not only do you get the chance to know exactly where your carrots and onions come from, but you also get to work outdoors and feel a sense of achievement too. Owning an allotment and growing vegetables is one of the activities recommended to people with mental health issues too. So, what could possibly be awry with such an activity?

Allocated space for growing

Growing your own produce in the UK has a long history. In fact, every local authority has a duty to provide allotments for people to grow food. And the current climate of people being more aware of their environmental footprint and knowing where their food comes from has meant a resurgence of interest in allotments.

But, with land becoming more expensive and councils desperate for land to build houses on — the land available for allotments and grow your-own-schemes is in short supply. In a survey conducted a few years ago, almost 100,000 were on a waiting list for an allotment.

What has gone before

Many garden sites or allotments can be situated on sites that have been used for many different activities in the past. Abandoned landfills and dumps have been used in the past to build houses on — how many times have you dug up some pottery fragments in your garden. In areas that were previously industrial sites, any number of contaminants could be found in the soil. Hydrocarbons, chemicals, heavy metals and asbestos are frequent contaminants from times gone by. But can these contaminants cause you harm still?

Wear gloves and wash the veg

There have been several studies that have looked at the effects of growing on contaminated land, and they have considered two issues. The first is to consider the effect of any contamination that the gardener meets while working in the garden. And the simple solution is to always wear gloves that will protect you from old contaminants and from new contaminants due to pesticides etc.

When it comes to the vegetables themselves, several studies have shown that although vegetables take up contaminants from the soil, they do so at a low level that is unlikely to cause harm. Higher levels of metals have been found in root vegetables grown in contaminated soils — but again, researchers suggest that the levels are not going to cause harm. Analysing veg for contaminants is discussed in the article, LC-MS/MS and GC-MS/MS Multi Residue Pesticide Analysis in Fruit and Vegetable Extracts on a Single Tandem Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer.

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