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QUESTION: We have lead levels of 1415 ppm in our vegetable garden soil. Can we grow our own veggies? Are we risking our health by staying here? 25 Sep 2008 Victoria, Australia

  Hello, We have just had our vegetable garden soil tested from our suburban back yard and we have lead levels of 1,415ppm and arsenic levels of 75 parts per million as this was an old mining area in the 1850's . Is this safe?

Can we grow our own veggies? Are we risking our health by staying here? Is there any government body that is able to help reclaim the soil?

Thanks Robbi and Peter

ANSWER: 30 Mar 2009

Dear Robbi

We apologise for the delay in response as there was not enough staff to answer all questions. Regarding the lead level you mentioned, It would be best not to use this garden to plant your own vegetables. It would also be advisable to try and plant grass as a cover to the soil. try to log on to this link in order to find out more about soil contamination and how to manage it. Is your yard lead safe?

If you would like to grow vegetables in your own garden then you will need to replace the contaminated soil with a depth, according to the type of vegetables you intend to grow, of new uncontaminated soil. In order to do that you need to test the new soil for lead using a commercial kit or ask the supplier about the lead level in the soil.

Regards,

Iman Hegazi, MBBS, MD. Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Volunteer

Update 2010 See: Standards and Guidelines for "Acceptable" Lead Levels in NSW

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