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toxic soil in new orleans??

Posted by andrea_s zone 8, nola (My Page) on
Tue, Jul 19, 05 at 13:05

Hey everyone,

I live in the 9th ward/Bywater area. Someone told me it's not good to plant vegetables in the ground here because this neighborhood used to be industrial and the soil is toxic.

Does anyone know where i could send a sample to get it tested (preferably for free :)?

Also, what veggies could I start in a container garden starting in August??


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: toxic soil in new orleans??

You're not going to eat the soil, so what you really want to test, if anything, is the vegies. Also, I've read that plants don't take up organic compounds like benzene, PCBs and solvents to any great extent. The main concern would be toxic metals like lead and cadmium. And different plants take up different metals at different rates, so it gets complicated. And metals occur naturally. If you test the soil or vegies, how do you decide what levels mean contamination?

I've heard that line about how contaminated the 9th ward is supposed to be, but I never heard anything specific. I've attached a link to a list of Superfund sites in LA and it doesn't look like the 9th ward is especially dirty. Also, not every part of the 9th ward used to be industrial. If your neighborhood is really old and not near the river or the canal, there's not much chance there used to be a factory on it. If that's the case, I'd start planting. But I'm not a particularly cautious person.

Here is a link that might be useful: superfund sites

RE: toxic soil in new orleans??

thanks for the superfund sites...i'm actually 2 blocks from the naval base, which is on the list. maybe it will be good if it shuts down and they can clean it up a little!

i guess that made me decide though...2 blocks is 2 close for me :)

thanks for the help...

RE: toxic soil in new orleans??

Don't give up yet. I worked on military base cleanups a couple of times and usually they involved fuel and solvent leaks or poorly designed landfills, but not metals, unless there was a rifle range where there were millions of old bullets in the soil (not likely at your navy base). You can probably get some information if you call the regional EPA office. Or if the base is still open they might have a public information office.

If lead is the main issue, there are home testing kits, but the EPA doesn't recommend them. You can collect samples and send them to a certified lab, though. Check out the link. On page 16 there's a phone number to help you locate a lab.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lead Testing

Just grow in containers or raised beds, and

watch out for tubers and other below ground crops. Those seem to collect the bad stuff.
I live near Magazine and Jackson, which is bright red for lead pollution on the EPA map. I've been told you can eat figs and such, it is only root crops that harbor the heavy metals. So don't eat the ornamental sweet potato tubers!

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