Eco Brooklyn does soil remediation and does its best to keep on top of the lead based remediation topics. Here are some links I got from the “leadnet” listserve (hosted by the national center for healthy housing in a conversation about lead and growing vegetables in soil.

“Sources, Sinks, And Exposure Pathways of Lead In Urban Garden Soil,”
Journal of Environmental Quality, 27 October 2006,

Lead In The Home Garden And Urban Soil Environment,” University of
Minnesota, 2002,

A Resource Guide: The Phytoremediation of Lead in Urban, Residential Soils,
Northwestern University,

Urban Gardens: Lead Exposure, Recontamination Mechanisms, and Implications For
Remediation Design, Department of Geosciences, Wellesley College, Wellesley,
MA, July 2008

Greennet Chicago, Chicago’s Greening Network, Publications Page,
The Annual Conference On Soils, Sediments, Water And Energy (Formerly known as
the Annual Conference On Contaminated Soils),

“City Soil Lead Exposure Maps,”
Lead In Soil,” Lead‘s Urban Legacy, Tulane University,


Here is another thread on soil remediation in Brooklyn.

Does anyone know where I can put lead contaminated soil removed from a
Brooklyn garden?
I’m having a hard time finding anyone who knows what to do with it
short of not telling anyone and just hauling it off to the dump….I’m
happy to dispose of it correctly but where??


I would call the city if I were you. You’ve got to have some kind of hazardous materials transfer station or some such somewhere there.


This is an interesting problem and has a potential scalar problem that makes
the whole issue rather expensive if a simple solution is not implemented. I
thought I would ask one of my contacts here in London Ontario as to what she
would recommend as we are finding sufficiently high of trace metals in some
of the urban community food gardens. In addition, we are finding that
different vegetables have different uptake of different metals and thus
while your soil may have specific metals, some foods will be safe to eat as
they do not collect the metals into the edible portions of the plants; it is
also dependent on the diversity of one’s diet as there are recommended
levels that one can consume; thus the message would be maintain a truly
diverse food diet if foods come from urban soils – Here is the response I

Hi Shane,

Gennaro’s problem is a complex one – because metals cannot be degraded,
there is no easy solution to their disposal.

I have asked the very same question of the Heath and Safety people here on
campus. The best (?) answer I have received is to mix the contaminated
soils with very large volumes of uncontaminated soil (e.g. large compost
pile) to “solve the problem of pollution by dilution”. Of course, the
resulting compost should NOT be used on vegetable gardens, but could be used
on flower (or other non-edible) plant beds. And, the compost pile should
not be beside a river or other conduit to the groundwater.

On a very large (e.g. industrial) scale, people incinerate the contaminated
soil. This reduces the volume immensely by burning off all the organic
matter, but the ash contains incredibly high concentrations of the metal
(one hectare of soil can be reduced to a few barrels of ash). Then they
store the barrels for eternity, or ‘mine’ the ash to recycle the metal.

For my research, the concentrations of metals I use are barely above the
natural background level, so I feel a bit better about disposal into a
compost pile.

The good news for Gennaro is that lead is not very soluble. A further
remediation factor could be to add lime to the contaminated soil (to raise
the pH and further immobilize the lead) before composting it.

Hope this helps.


The Brooklyn college did the soil test. When I asked them what I
should do they asked me how long I had been living in Brooklyn (10
years). They said not to bother doing anything, I was already screwed.
What a world we live in.


Nice. (add sarcastic tone) But you’ve only been at that location a year or less, right? Presumably, your previous location in Brooklyn did not have the lead levels you found in your (paint-enriched) soil.

And I thought lead was primarily an issue for children….? Your young-un hasn’t been in Brooklyn for ten years.

Also wondering if bioremediation offers any solutions.


You could try Chelation Therapy:

Well I’ve just bought some books on permaculture and another on
mushrooms to see what I can do.


On a related note, my wife’s lead level is quite high and the operating theory is that it is due to use of Chinese herbs grown in contaminated soil.

She attempted chelation treatment, btw, but the treatment was too hard on her system and made her sicker.


My daughter had high lead levels when she was young due to a sliding
pocket door that had lead paint on it. Once we found the problem we
fed her lots of blueberries, green vegetables like kale and spinach,
and other food items high in vitamin C with a reputation for
neutralizing lead. Despite the claims that lead doesn’t easily leave
the body, her lead levels went down within a couple months.