If you had your garden tested by a certified lead inspector and found that you do have elevated lead levels, you may be able to wash most of the airborne lead from your fruits and vegetables.

Studies have shown that lead does not accumulate in the fruiting part of the vegetable or fruit, such as corn, squash, beans, tomatoes, berries, peaches, strawberries, and apples. Higher concentrations are more likely to be found in leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and spinach, and on the surface of root crops, like carrots, potatoes and beets.

Cleaning your produce is very important if there is any amount of lead in your garden. Here are some helpful hints:

  • Remove outer leaves from leafy crops.
  • Peel all root crops.
  • Wash all produce in water containing vinegar (1 TBSP vinegar, 1 ½ quarts water) or dish soap (1/2 TBSP dishwashing liquid, 1 ½ quarts water). This will wash away most of the airborne lead.

Lead dust is dangerous to everyone – especially children, pregnant women and pets. They may suffer brain damage, loss of IQ, learning disabilities, hearing loss, slowed growth, headaches, increased tendency to violence, nervous system and kidney damage, attention deficit disorder, poor muscle coordination, decreased muscle and bone growth, speech and language problems, increase delinquent and antisocial behaviors when the children grow older, reduced neonatal weight, reproductive problems, nerve disorders, memory and concentration problems, and muscle and joint pain. Another major problem associated with lead poisoning is high blood pressure and hypertension, which causes strokes and heart attacks, which can lead to death.

Lead doesn’t have to ruin your homegrown produce – take the proper precautions and enjoy.


Past exposure to lead may be to blame for over 400,000 deaths in the United States every year (The Lancet Public Health.)

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