Can I protect my child from lead in soil?

CAN I PROTECT MY CHILD FROM LEAD IN SOIL?

IF the amount of lead in your soil is 200 ppm or over, and...
IF the soil is not covered with many plants or thick ground cover...

THEN you should consider one or more of the following suggestions to make your soil safer.

  • Prevent nearby sources of lead from contaminating soil, for example, control peeling housepaint. Call your local health department for appropriate methods.
  • Plant and maintain grass or other thick ground cover.
  • Cover the soil with a thick layer of gravel, wood chips, or other materials.
  • Pave the area.
  • If you have no other alternatives, remove the top 3 to 6 inches of soil and replace with uncontaminated soil.

CAUTION: Soil with lead levels of 1,000 ppm or more is considered hazardous waste by the California Department of Health Services. Before you move soil, call your local health department.

WILL LEAD IN SOIL GET INTO THE VEGETABLES IN MY GARDEN?

In general, vegetables that are grown in soil containing lead do not absorb much lead. Soil with lead is more dangerous to children who play in it than to children who eat vegetables grown in it. However, here are some ways you can reduce the amount of lead absorbed into vegetables:

  • Add compost or lime to the soil.
  • Plant fruiting or leafy vegetables, such as lettuce or tomatoes, because they take in less lead than potatoes, carrots, turnips and other root crops.

Dust contaminated with lead settles on garden plants. Vegetables should be washed with vinegar and water, or peeled. The outer leaves may also be thrown away.

 

Next Section: Other Health Tips and Testing


Reprinted with permission from the California Department of Health Services and the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Branch.

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