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Project: Soil contaminant transfer to urban vegetables

In this project, we study the significance of some key factors for the transfer of soil contaminants to vegetables grown in urban environments.

Project information

Project manager
Anna Augustsson
Other project members
Maria Lundgren, Linnaeus University; Rupert Hough, James Hutton Institute, UK; Emma Engström, Ilia Rodushkin, ALS Scandinavia
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University; James Hutton Institute, UK; ALS Scandinavia
Linnaeus University, Department of Biology and Environmental Science
1 Jan 2019–31 Dec 2024
Environmental Science (Department of Biology and Environmental Science, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences)

More about the project

Today, there is an increasing trend in growing your own food, and in particular urban gardening is booming. While the benefits of urban cultivation are many, the potential contamination of urban soils by a number of different metals, is a well-known problem. We know that cultivation in metal contaminated soils may lead to elevated concentrations in crops too, but the effect on total human exposure is poorly understood. In addition, crop contamination does not only occur through root uptake of metal ions from the soil pore water. It may also occur via adherence of fine soil or dust particles, in which case the elements should generally be of lower bioaccessibility and potentially removable through washing of the vegetables before consumption.

This PhD project addresses: i) how the uptake of metal contaminants (eg Pb, Cd, As, Cu, Cr, Ni) by plants from cultivation soils is affected by soil geochemistry, and how it can be modelled; ii) how much of the metals analysed in urban vegetables that can be related to root uptake uptake of metals ions from the cultivation soil and how much that derive from adhering soil/dust particles, and; iii) how washing of urban garden vegetables before consuming them affect their content of metal contaminants.

The project will provide information that is relevant, for example, when assessing exposure through vegetable consumption for urban gardeners and in risk reduction messaging.