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Contamination of soils in domestic gardens and allotments: a brief overview

Author(s): Alloway BJ

Abstract

This overview has been prepared as an introduction to the sources of contaminants in gardens and allotments for the special issue of Land Contamination and Reclamation on the contamination of domestic gardens and allotments. Soils in domestic gardens are often found to be contaminated with a range of sub-stances and pathogens which could pose a hazard to health. These contaminants include: heavy metals and metalloids, especially lead, zinc, copper and cadmium; organic pollutants such as PAHs and pesticides; asbestos and pathogens. The possible sources of these respective contaminants are discussed and some brief case studies referred to. There are about 15 million houses with gardens in Great Britain, and so this likelihood of soil contamination is highly significant. Children are more likely to be exposed to contaminants in gardens than on industrially contaminated land. Although most garden and allotment soils are contaminated at least to a limited extent, it is often difficult to predict which gardens will be more heavily contaminated through the actions of householders or allotment tenants. Areas affected in the past by atmospheric deposi-tion from major sources of air pollution such as industries or heavy traffic, and gardens of properties developed on contaminated land without precautions to remove contami-nants, are more easily identified.

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