Toxic community gardens in Brooklyn 'extremely alarming'

Brooklyn Currents | 11/16/2014 | 0 comments

Community gardens in Brooklyn might seem like a great way to get healthy produce while helping the neighborhood.

But state inspectors have found that five out of seven such gardens tested are yielding vegetables with levels of lead up to almost 20 times the safe levels set by the state's Health Department, the New York Post reported after getting access to the study through the Freedom of Information Law.

Four of the five are in Brooklyn.

"If they don't know what the level of lead is in the garden, it would be advisable not to grow root crops" such as carrots, Murray McBride, co-author of the study and a Cornell University professor of soil chemistry, told the Post.

"You're playing Russian Roulette with this," added Howard Mielke of Tulane Medical School, a pharmacologist who reviewed the state study.

Children, pregnant women, and those with illnesses are most susceptible to lead poisoning, which can cause an array of disorders, particularly in the brain, and can lead to death, experts say.

City Councilman Corey Johnson, chairman of the council's Health Committee, said that the findings were "extremely alarming."

The state Health Department considers a safe level of lead in produce to be 0.1 parts per million.

The findings in Brooklyn showed:


HART TO HART
104-108 Hart St.
1.95 ppm (19.5 times the safe level) in a carrot
----------------------------------------------------------------
CLINTON PLACE MEMORIAL PARK
AND GARDEN
1031-35 Bedford Ave.
0.93 ppm (9.3 times safe level) in a carrot
------------------------------------------------------------------
EAST NEW YORK FARMS
613 Schenck Ave.
0.27 ppm (2.7 times safe level) in a carrot
------------------------------------------------------------------
CLASSON FULGATE
474 Classon Ave.
0.21 ppm (2.1 times safe level) in a winter squash


(The fifth tainted garden was in the Bronx, with a carrot coming in at 0.15 ppm, or one and a half times the safe level)











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