fun for phyto-remediation sceptics: lead contaminated soil and spinach

this AP dispatch appeared on dec 5 and i'm surporised no one noticed...
Spinach Used in Lead Contamination Fight
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: December 5, 2003
Filed at 2:28 a.m. ET
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- Spinach gardens are being used as a weapon here against lead contamination.
Unsafe levels of lead have been found in some homeowners' yards in the city's Bayside neighborhood. The amount of lead varied widely from yard to yard, and even within each yard.
Soil scientist Samantha Langley-Turnbaugh of the University of Southern Maine planted three spinach gardens over the summer to see if the plants could help clean up contaminated soil. Leafy plants like spinach absorb lead from the soil as they grow.
``People were planting backyard gardens and hadn't even thought about the fact that there were heavy metals in the soil that could be taken up into the plants,'' Langley-Turnbaugh said.
The high levels are seen in part as a remnant of Bayside's industrial past. Bayside is a mix of residential streets, businesses and warehouses just off Interstate-295 on Portland's peninsula.
Langley-Turnbaugh and her students began testing the Bayside yards last fall with the help of a small grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.
In some places lead levels soared above 375 parts per million, the guideline set by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. Levels reached 7,000 parts per million in some cases.
``That's the highest you want to see in bare soil that's in a play area,'' Langley-Turnbaugh said.
Preliminary results show that the contamination in one yard was cut in half by the spinach garden.
Similar projects have been done in the laboratory or on industrial sites, but this is one of the first to use plants to remediate lead problems around homes.
The project will continue this year in the nearby Parkside neighborhood.
Lead is a central nervous system toxin that can cause learning disabilities and developmental delays.
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Well, that is interesting. I wouldn't want to be eating THAT spinach! I wonder how many people in that neighborhood had what they thought was a nice organic garden. It must have been awful to find out vegetables from the store would have been much healthier for their family. I remember reading about high lead levels in yards that are next to busy roads. The lead came from all the years when lead was used in gasoline. People sometimes test their garden soil to see what it needs. Maybe we should be testing for what it has that we don't want.
Steve
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(snipped a bit...)
LOL,
This reminds me of the old story about the old woman who swallowed a fly...
So what did they do with the lead contaminated plants? Did they have to hire a hazmat team to dispose of them at a hazardous waste landfill since they were unfit for composting or human or animal feed?
I can just picture them out in their hazmat suits harvesting their organic spinach.
LOL
Mike D.
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yes, exactly. the plants are toxic waste.

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