If I have lead in my soil, are my apples, peaches, and grapes safe to eat?
I live on the east end of Portland and I know I have lead in my soil. I have apple, peach trees, and grapes. I was wondering if the fruit would contain the lead as well? If yes, is there a safe amount that we can eat?
Generally, plants do not absorb lead into their tissues, but the dust from garden soil contaminated with lead is at risk of settling on plants and fruits that we may want to eat.
The first thing to do is do a soil test to see what level of lead there is in your orchard. Our Know Your Garden Soil bulletin discusses how to do the soil test. The UMaine Soil Test Lab does a lead screen on all garden soils, so you can get the idea of how concerning your lead level is. You can ask for a soil test kit here.
Once you know the lead level, you can refer to our Lead in Your Soil factsheet for things you can do to mitigate a high lead level in your soil. Please note that children less than six years old are at special risk of lead poisoning. If you have children under six who have played out in this orchard area and the soils are high in lead, you should have them checked for lead level in their blood.
Grapes grown on a trellis and tree fruits generally don’t uptake lead from the soil, but soil dust that blows up onto the fruit should be washed off before using.