Urban agriculture has gained popularity in many cities across the world. However, contaminated soil is a significant barrier in many places. Decades of fossil fuel combustion, polluted runoff water, and the deterioration of old buildings has caused the accumulation of arsenic and lead in urban garden soils in New London CT, which can cause serious chronic health risks if consumed. The objective of this case study is to determine 1) if crops differentially take up heavy metals and metalloids (HMs); 2) which soil factors determine the quantity of HM uptake; and 3) how HM levels in these crops compare to recommendations. To answer these questions, five different crop types including three with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) associations and two without, were grown on existing high and low Pb and As contaminated plots at an urban community farm. I concluded that plants differentially take up HMs. Soil pH, soil phosphorous, and AMF colonization had effects on plant uptake of As and Pb into root and shoot tissues. These findings may serve to inform crop selection and soil management for safer growing conditions and the dissemination of soil knowledge.
Bowdish, Logan, "Heavy Metals, Soil Fungi, and Crop Safety in Urban Community Farms: Case Study for New London, CT" (2022). Environmental Studies Honors Papers. 22.
The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.