Lead in house paint?

iowafarmersdaughter(4)June 13, 2013

I want to plant some zucchini, and sweet potatoes in a bed under my dining room window. The exterior paint is peeling on my 100+ year old house, and I am sure some of the a paint chips have fallen in the bed. I have no idea how old some of the chips might be, because there probably has been paint on paint through the years. I don't want to spend a lot of money to find out, and it is getting late in the season to wait for test results to come back. Does anyone know if exterior paint contained lead in by gone years, and should I be concerned?

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Lead paints were banned around 1978; prior to that many housepaints, especially oil-based exterior paints, were likely to contain lead. It would be wise to have the soil tested for lead before growing edibles in it. If you wish to proceed without the soil test, I would recommend planting in containers or in a deep raised bed with landscape cloth beneath the fill to prevent roots from going down into the native soil. Either of these options would mean you would have to pay more attention to watering and fertilizing.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 8:42PM
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I agree w/ agardenstateof_mind. I've actually done quite a bit of study regarding Pb (lead) as my son (now 14) was lead poisoned before he was 2 y/o and we lived in a beautiful old Victorian. Any house that has been painted and was built prior to 1978 will have lead paint on there somewhere. Paint doesn't have to be peeling. Years of rainwater wash it into the soil. Just opening a window where there is still lead paint even under some latex can created Pb dust. Plantings must be at LEAST 10 feet from the perimeter of the foundation (if any part of the plant will be some how consumed) with the exception of strawberries (funny, huh?). I'm not sure about other berries but roots and especially greens readily take up the lead. It is dangerous to anyone in the surrounding environment (due to wind) to dry scrape leaded paint; one should wet scrape and collect all scrapings in a tarp for hazardous waste disposal. Check with the Iowa State DEM; I imagine that there are laws regarding this and here in New England (many old leaded Victorians), the DEM has classes and a lot of free information/consultants, etc. re: Pb in homes/soil.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 2:54AM
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A later thought; I think that the above link can answer a lot of questions that you may have re: lead in your soil. That close to your house, you'd 1st need to seal in the lead with special sealants rendering the exterior 'lead safe' and then use raised beds with an impermeable barrier in between the actual original soil and soil brought in from elsewhere.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 3:04AM
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