The transition to sustainable cities often places emphasis on the importance of green infrastructure, including gardens. Urban gardens provide a local source of nutritious food and can help to strengthen community ties. However, there are tradeoffs to gardening in the city, including potential exposure to soil pollutants, such as lead from legacy sources such as paint, gas, and industry. Lead in soil is a lesser known source of human lead exposure but it can adversely affect humans, especially children, if it is accidentally inhaled or ingested. Older neighborhoods, often occupied by low-income communities and communities of color, are burdened with the highest soil lead levels. These are often the same neighborhoods with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Despite being located in one of the most productive agricultural regions of the world, some neighborhoods in Sacramento are considered food deserts. How can residents manage for multiple ecosystem services by safely growing food in their yards and minimizing their potential exposure to soil lead? Studying the connection between urban landscapes and soil lead can identify areas of concern and help mitigate potential risk.
Read about: Working dirt: Community based research on lead, gardens, and place | View Other Stories