#EESPublishes: EES teams up with City agencies to find long term affordable solution to urban garden soil pollution

PhD student Sara Perl Egendorf and research Advisor Professor Zhongqi (Joshua) Cheng from the Brooklyn College Urban Soils Lab, the New York City Urban Soils Institute and the CUNY Graduate Center PhD Program in Earth and Environmental Sciences were lead authors of an article just published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, along with Dr. Peter Groffman from Brooklyn College and the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center, PhD candidate Anna Paltseva, post-doctoral researcher Maha Deeb, undergraduate student Victor Flores, Dr. Daniel Walsh from the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation, and Dr. Howard Mielke from Tulane University . Egendorf and Cheng were also co-authors of a related article just published in the Journal of Environmental Management.  The pair of articles presents a practical solution that can help remove the health risk from exposure to contaminants (such as lead) in garden soils. This is a collaboration between Brooklyn College, the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation, GreenThumb (part of the Department of Parks and Recreation), and community organizations such as the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust, the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, East New York Farms!, Sterling Community Garden, East 43rd St. Block Association Garden,as well as many individual gardeners. Egendorf’s MS Thesis research at Brooklyn College studied nine raised bed vegetable plots filled with soil mixes composed of variable proportions of pristine Clean Soil Bank sediments and compost material. The team found that the mixed soil can produce sufficient yield of chemically safe vegetables. This engineered clean soil also serves as a barrier to contaminants commonly present in urban garden soils. The use of Clean Soil Bank sediments and compost is a beneficial use of waste material that has historically been transported to landfills. The City has large volumes of clean sediments and compost available. The mixed engineered soil can be a long term and affordable solution to urban soil pollution, one that promotes the many benefits of urban green spaces and gardening. The collaborative method of soil construction and distribution being created here is the first of its kind, and this model is applicable to many other cities around the world.