By Ramy

SGC in Environmental Health Perspectives

December 20th, 2013 in soil safety, Urban Gardening

A recently published article from Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), Urban Gardening: Managing the Risks of Contaminated Soil, draws upon Professor Wendy Heiger-Bernays’ expertise along with others’, to frame the emerging issues with gardening in urban soils.

“Although it can be tricky, ideally gardeners should also test incoming compost or soil because there’s little guarantee it will be much better than the old soil, says Heiger-Bernays. She and her students have found that few authorities either enforce rules governing what goes into compost or test the final product, although some voluntary standards do exist, such as the U.S. Composting Council’s Seal of Testing Assurance.” [1]

SCG’s ongoing work with a community garden group is featured in this article as sub-narrative. Have a read at what we do in action.

Citation for this Article:
[1] Kessler R. Urban gardening: managing the risks of contaminated soil. Environ
Health Perspect. 2013 Dec 1;121(11-12):A326-33. doi: 10.1289/ehp.121-A326. PubMed
PMID: 24284011; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3852790.

The article is open-access and available for download through the EHP website and through PubMed.


Commercial Urban Agriculture now LEGAL in Boston

December 20th, 2013 in Article 89, Policy, Urban Ag, Zoning

On Wednesday morning, December 18th 2013, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) Zoning Board unanimously approved Article 89, in support of commercial agriculture within the City. This is great news for Boston and its progress toward greater community-making and food security. The BRA has done an excellent job of outreach and keeping the process of drafting the Article transparent. You can find the related documents through their website.

The official press release can be found on the the City of Boston's Official website.


Roadblocks to Urban Agriculture (Repost)

October 17th, 2013 in Uncategorized

Recently, a local news outlet covered the work of researchers from U. of Illinois about the challenges of urban agriculture. Click here for the full article from the Journal Gazette & Times-Courier (Matoon, IL).

The citation to their work is below:

“Environmental Challenges Threatening the Growth of Urban Agriculture in the United States,” S. E. Wortman and S.T. Lovell. J. Environ. Qual. 42:1283–1294 2013. Accessible online (with subscription) at

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Science Gardener Collaborative at SETAC in November

October 17th, 2013 in Uncategorized

The Science Gardener Collaborative will be presenting at the 34th Annual Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in Nashville, TN.

Upcoming: "Relative contribution of lead via inhalation of soil particulate matter to gardener’s lead exposure" Poster session presented at Communities, Ecology, and Health: Making the Connection. 34th Annual Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry; Nashville, TN. Nov 17-21, 2013. Presented by: J. Tabony, and W.J. Heiger-Bernays, Dept of Environmmental Health, BU School of Public Health, Boston, MA

Abstract: Gardening and farming in urban settings has risen in popularity in Boston, as the city has seen an increase in community gardens and urban farms in the past years. However, due to the historic use of lead-based paint and leaded gasoline, lead is ubiquitous in many urban soils, posing a potential risk to human health. Lead exposures in utero and to the young child can result in adverse effects on neurocognition, measured as learning disabilities and behavioral disorders. Evidence of older child and adult lead exposures can result in adverse effects on several organ systems, including the central nervous, gastrointestinal, reproduction and renal systems.


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Science Gardener Collaborative at APHA Boston in November

October 17th, 2013 in Uncategorized

We have two posters at the APHA Conference this year. Here are the titles and corresponding abstracts.

"Dirty Garden Soil: Practice Steps for Cleaner Backyard and Community Gardens"  141st American Public Health Association Annual Meeting. Boston, MA. November 5, 2013 presented by: W. J. Heiger-Bernays, P. Barrett, B. Kim, J. Tabony, Dept of Environmmental Health, BU School of Public Health, Boston, MA

Abstract: Community and backyard gardens created in residential areas provide people with opportunities to improve the overall quality of their lives. These gardens are often located on property with soil contaminated by lead, arsenic and/or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from decades of human activity. Unacceptable human health risks, especially for children and pregnant women, can result from exposure to soil contaminants through ingestion, inhalation and dermal routes. Risks from contaminated urban soils can be controlled using a set of Best Management Practices (BMPs) based on research and methods from academic institutions, state and federal agencies, and international environmental science experts. More


How to take a garden soil sample (video)

October 1st, 2013 in soil safety, Soil sampling

Printed instructions, no matter how step-by-step, may not always be the easiest way to figure out how to complete a task. Our video on how to take a soil sample may be of help when you are ready to collect samples to send to a lab for analysis.