Growing your own vegetables may be dangerous. Gardens are failing the EU soil contamination tests in old industrial areas

Various garden trade magazines have been reporting that products which promote Grow your Own Vegetables are doing very well for garden centres at the moment.

This is great of course – everyone is getting back to basics and learning how to grow a turnip or two.

Meanwhile I am reading other articles that are reporting another trend. More and more gardens are being identified as being contaminated from old industrial uses. Allotments are also at risk.

Local  Authorities are now requiring more soil testing to occur on residential properties before the sale process of a property can be finalised or when a planning application is made for home renovations.

It seems that some residential properties that were deemed safe for residential use last year are no longer considered safe this year. In other words some gardens may have soil that is not suitable for growing foods .

According to Toxic Land Check this requirement is due to a regulation that was introduced in 2000 but is only beginning to be enforced by government now.  The regulation is Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and came about with the UK’s membership to the European Union.

The regulation requires more rigourous soil investigations (than has previously been required) to determine if a site is suitable for residential use. But unless you decide to move or extend your home you may not be aware that your land is potentially contaminated.

So are these two trends worth mentioning  – well I think so but I don’t want to be overly alarmist. But it appears to me that if you live in an area that was once industrial (often referred to as a brownfield site)  it may be prudent to contact your Local Authority and see if your property has been identified as potentially contaminated. Apparently 10% of all UK residential properties fail the new requirements.

A part from ingesting your own garden vegetables these contaminants can also affect children and pets if they are playing with the soil .

For further information on soil testing refer to Toxic Land Check. This organisation also has a blog and several useful links on its site.