Study of Baltimore’s urban farms and gardens finds safe levels of metals at majority of sites

Urban-grown produce was found to have levels of metals comparable to samples from grocery chains and farmers markets, suggesting they are as safe to consume as store- and market-bought produce



A new report that examined soil, water, and produce from urban farms and gardens in Baltimore City found levels of lead and other metals low enough that they should pose no reason for concern at a majority of growing sites. In 96% of soil samples and 95% of irrigation water samples collected from the participating farms and gardens, levels complied with criteria for metal contaminants.

Bloomberg School of Public Health staff report HUB

The researchers from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health say their findings should reassure growers that farming and gardening in Baltimore is generally safe.

Urban farms and gardens can benefit communities, but growing food in urban soils, especially in industrialized cities like Baltimore, has been a subject of much concern about possible residual contaminants, including heavy metals such as lead and arsenic that are harmful to human health.

To investigate potential metal exposures on Baltimore City’s urban farms and community gardens, Center for a Livable Future researchers collaborated with the Farm Alliance of Baltimore, the Parks & People Foundation, the Baltimore City Office of Sustainability, and the University of Maryland Extension–Baltimore City to design and implement the “Safe Urban Harvests Study.”