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10 Healthy Garden Habits

en Español / em Português

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10 Healthy Garden Habits for reducing exposure to soil contaminants. Soil contaminants are naturally occuring or human-made chemicals that can have negative impacts on human and plant health

Prepare Your Garden

  • Keep soil pH above 6.5.  Soil pH around 7 is good for plant health and also decreases plant uptake of heavy metals like lead.
  • Cover soil and keep it moist. Use mulch or another ground cover to reduce dust in the garden.
  • Add compost. Organic matter in compost can help bind some contaminants and make them less harmful. Check the NC Composting Council website to locate STA or OMRI compost suppliers near you.

Eating soil particles is a major route of exposure to soil contaminants

Protect Yourself and Your Family

  • Rinse and peel produce. Carefully rinse leafy produce and peel root crops to remove soil particles.
  • Protect your skin.  Wear gloves, pants, and boots in the garden.
    Wash your hands and face with soap and water after you finish gardening.
  • Wash your hands and face with soap and water after you finish gardening.

Children are at risk their exposure may be higher than adults, and they are more vulnerable to the effects of contaminants

Prevent the Introduction of New Contaminants

  • Leave dirt at the door. Remove garden boots and clothing at the door to avoid bringing soil into your home or workplace.
  • Choose food-safe garden materials.  Avoid treated woods or other materials that may leach harmful chemicals into your soil.
  • Avoid pollution from roadways. Hedges or fences can help reduce air pollution and runoff from roadways.
  • Limit chemical use in and around the garden to avoid introducing new contaminants into your soils.

More information about soil contamination in gardens.

Logo Duke Superfund Research Center and National Institute of Environmental Health

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