Urban Air Pollution Impact on Urban Farming - Report by Intern: Brandon Piekarski

posted Aug 27, 2013, 2:49 PM by Como Corner   [ updated Aug 27, 2013, 3:03 PM ]
Hello everyone,

This summer (2013) I have been doing research on the impacts of urban air pollution on urban farming, specifically related to HERC. I have prepared a report on the information I have gathered and the resources that were valuable in providing the information. What follows is the executive summary from the report. To view the entire report, please refer to the PDF attached below the executive summary.

Executive Summary

Question: Does urban air pollution (specifically related to HERC) impact urban farming?

(The main source responsible for answering this question was reference #5: A Review and Analysis of Parameters for Assessing Transport of Environmentally Released Radionuclides through Agriculture)

Answer: Yes, urban air pollution will be uptaken by plants through their roots as air pollutants are deposited and incorporated into the soil. Uptake can vary by plant but there is a general trend where concentrations are greatest in the roots and follow the general trend of: roots > leaves > stems > tubers > fruits > seeds (reference 5, pg. 5). Another general trend is that concentrations will be greater in vegetative plant parts than in reproductive plant parts. Air pollution will also deposit directly onto the surface of plants which can then be ingested. The risk is greatest for leafy vegetables which have the largest surface area.

Recommendation for future research: My recommendation for a research project would be to test the soil to determine the compounds within. If a compound is in the soil it is most likely within the plant. Some of the compounds within the soil could be traced back to HERC or other air polluters within the Minneapolis area. Testing the soil may help determine the level of concentration of pollutants from years of deposition. Leafy vegetables grown at fairshare farm could also be tested to determine the amount of air pollution deposited onto their surfaces. This would probably be the most accurate way to determine the air pollutants interacting with Fairshare Farm specifically. The soil may have compounds from sources other than air pollution that we do not have knowledge of (such as previous uses of the sight or of other sights that the soil has been transported from). The broad surface area provided by leafy vegetables allows for the greatest amount of deposition from air pollution and will give the best picture of all the air pollutants interacting with the plants at Fairshare Farm.
Como Corner,
Aug 27, 2013, 2:59 PM