Lead, arsenic and cadmium are the most common urban soil contaminants. Protect yourself from these contaminants by learning more about them
Lead and cadmium are positively charged metals in soil, while arsenic is a negatively charged metalloid. Soil treatments which reduce lead and cadmium toxicity to plants and people are not effective against arsenic, and vice versa.
Industrial activities released lead, arsenic and cadmium into soil. Additionally, pre-2000s treated wood leaches arsenic into soil, while lead was released by pre-1970s gasoline and paint. Lead is a widespread urban contaminant, while arsenic is less common and cadmium is rare.
Exposure pathways are the routes by which soil contaminants end up in your bloodstream. The main exposure pathway for gardeners is cadmium in vegetables, arsenic in soil dust, and lead in both vegetables and soil dust. Tackling both pathways can protect against many contaminants.