Community gardening in cities is increasing, driven by social interaction and food security. City soils are sinks for heavy metals; including neurotoxic lead (Pb). Exposure routes are primarily through inhalation/ingestion of soil, or second by ingestion of plants that have accumulated Pb. This research evaluates soil at three Liberty City, Florida sites estimating risk of Pb exposure through primary and secondary pathways.
Soil cores were collected from Liberty City, and red Malabar spinach (Basella rubra) was grown in Pb soil treatments in a greenhouse. Total soil Pb levels and plant tissues were measured after acid digestion, by ICP-OES. In Liberty City, two sites had hotspots with areas of elevated soil Pb levels. Plants grown on Pb contaminated soil all accumulated statistically significant Pb concentrations. Therefore, there is a potential risk of Pb exposure to residents in Liberty City by exposure in hotspot sites through both the primary and secondary pathways.