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Your Environment. Your Health.

Safe Urban Gardening

Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)

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Safe Urban Gardening

February 15, 2013

Experts: Murray McBride, Ph.D., Hannah Shayler

What could be healthier than a backyard garden? In this podcast, we learn why soil contamination makes gardening potentially risky in some areas. Our experts explain what recent research can tell us about safe gardening practices.

This podcast highlights Healthy Soils, Healthy Communities, a 4-year research and community engagement project funded by NIEHS and led by partners in the Cornell University Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Cornell Waste Management Institute, Cornell University Cooperative Extension-New York City, Green Thumb, and the New York State Department of Health.


Murray McBride, Ph.D.

Murray McBride, Ph.D., is Professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at Cornell University and past director of the Cornell Waste Management Institute. His research focuses on understanding the behavior of contaminants at the soil-water interface in the environment, with particular emphasis on phytotoxic and zootoxic trace and heavy metals. He is currently studying the bioavailability of toxic and trace metals in soils to crops, animals, and humans; ultimately, this research aims to inform efforts to protect food crops from toxic metal contaminants, minimize trace element deficiencies, and develop methods for testing and remediating contaminated soils.

Hannah Shayler

Hannah Shayler is an Extension Associate in the Cornell Waste Management Institute, where she leads an urban soils outreach program in response to concerns about contaminants in the soils of gardens, schools, residential properties, and other community spaces. While earning an M.S. degree in Natural Resources at Cornell University, Hannah conducted research on the issue of mercury and fish consumption, and how data collection, risk assessment, and risk communication efforts can best protect human health. Hannah also holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Connecticut College.

For More Information

Healthy Soils, Healthy Communities
Explore factsheets, articles, and information on how to garden safely in areas that might be affected by soil contamination at this website maintained by the Cornell Waste Management Institute.

PEPH Healthy Soils, Healthy Communities Project Webpage
An overview of the Healthy Soils, Healthy Communities research and outreach activities from NIEHS’s Partnerships for Environmental Public Health program.

Healthy Gardening: Tips for New and Experienced Gardeners
Information on safe gardening practices from the New York State Department of Health.

Find gardening resources from the nation’s largest community gardening program.

Urban Gardens and Soil Contaminants: A Gardener’s Guide to Healthy Soil
Get tips and basic information about dealing with soil contamination in this factsheet from the University of Minnesota.

EPA's Brownfields Program - Improving Local, Sustainable Food Systems
Information from the EPA about pursuing agriculture projects as part of Brownfield redevelopment and reuse.

Browse information about contaminants at a portal maintained by the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

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