But among the chard and cherry tomatoes are trace metals, enduring in the soil. Particularly worrisome is lead, a vestige of the industries, house paints, and gasoline mixtures of 19th- and 20th-century urban life.
Researchers at the City University of New York (CUNY) recently surveyed 1,652 garden soil samples from 904 New York City gardens, and found that 71 percent of home garden samples exceeded the state’s soil safety maximum for lead and arsenic. 21 percent of community gardens also surpassed those limits. (Because the study’s samples came from New York City gardeners who sent them in voluntarily, it is impossible to know how many came from store-bought versus city soil.) Brooklyn, with its factory-heavy past, fared the worst of all five boroughs.
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