Tuesday April 7, 2020

Is gardening safe in polluted cities? New study says ‘Yes’

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

A recent study, conducted by Kansas State University (KSU) researchers, showed that the potential risks involved with the vegetables cultivated in polluted urban soils are not as high as it’s feared to be.

The report was published in the Journal of Environmental Quality, which stated that even though the urban soil often tends to be polluted, the plants do not absorb that much of the pollutants through the soil.

Lately, interest in ‘grow your own’ vegetables is increasing around the world, especially in the cities. Growing vegetables in home gardens is considered to be healthier than buying them from outside vendors as it is believed that home-grown vegetables have lower levels of pesticides. In addition, there’s always a fear that people might be consuming high levels of pollutants considering that urban soil is contaminated with chemicals.

In 2014, a study was conducted in the New York City community gardens, which found heavy levels of elements like lead, barium, cadmium and other harmful substance in the soil samples.

The new report published by Kansas State University has come as a reassurance for the city-gardeners.

The Discovery News reported that during the study, the scientists grew tomatoes, collard greens and carrots in urban soil and then analyzed the crops for levels of lead, arsenic and compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which have the potential to be carcinogenic. They found that almost all of the vegetables turned out to have low levels of the various contaminants.

Root crops, such as carrots, were found to have the maximum uptake of substances like lead. However, the scientists reassured that it’s still not unsafe to cultivate and consume these carrots.

KSU assistant professor of agronomy, Ganga Hettiarachchi, stated in the press release, “It’s important to know how these safety levels are calculated,” adding “A person isn’t going to be eating those carrots for every meal 365 days a year. In the grand scheme, personally I wouldn’t worry much about the possibility of contaminants in carrots because I know I’m not really eating that much carrot.”

The researchers listed a variety of safeguards that urban gardeners can use to further reduce their toxic exposure. Washing vegetables with a special soap was the most successful method in the laboratory, but they also found that simply rinsing them in water also provided a degree of protection.

”Soap isn’t even really necessary if you wash all of the visible soil off with water in your kitchen,” Hettiarachchi said.

“The main point is to make sure you’re not intentionally eating soil,” she added.

Next Story

Physical Abuse During Childhood May Lead To Heavy Cigarette Use: Study

The researchers used their responses about smoking between the ages of 12 and 18 to identify three patterns of cigarette use

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Adolescent cigarette smoking is a really serious social problem and public health concern. Pixabay

Researchers have found that children who have been abused, mistreated or neglected at home are more likely to start smoking cigarette and other substances.

The study, published in the journal Substance Use & Misuse, showed that physical abuse of children in high-risk homes, especially when they’re toddlers or teens, dramatically increases the odds that their adolescent experimentation with cigarettes will lead to a heavy smoking habit.

For the findings, the study examined data on children who were at high risk for abuse and neglect — either because they had been referred to a child protective service or lived in conditions associated with the likelihood of maltreatment or both. “I wanted to look at different types of maltreatment and whether they have an impact on cigarette smoking,” said study lead author Susan Yoon, Assistant Professor at Ohio State University in the US.

“Adolescent cigarette smoking is a really serious social problem and public health concern. Brain development is not complete until late adolescence or during young adulthood, and cigarette smoking is associated with damage in brain development,” Yoon said.

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“We also know that those who start smoking cigarettes during adolescence are more likely to continue smoking into adulthood,” Yoon added. For the results, the research team used data on 903 adolescents, who were assessed at age 12, 16 and 18.

A breakdown of different types of abuse and neglect experienced by the sample population during three different time periods (early childhood, school age and adolescence) confirmed how vulnerable these kids were.

The researchers used their responses about smoking between the ages of 12 and 18 to identify three patterns of cigarette use: stable low/no use (61 per cent of respondents), gradually increasing use (30 per cent) and sharply increasing cigarette use (nine per cent).

“It was almost shocking how the pattern of cigarette use over time went up so drastically in the sharply increasing use class,” Yoon said.

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Researchers have found that children who have been abused, mistreated or neglected at home are more likely to start smoking cigarettes and other substances. Pixabay

“They were pretty similar to the others at age 12 — almost 80 percent didn’t smoke. At age 16, we saw that almost 60 per cent had used cigarettes more than 20 days in the past year and by 18, every single kid in this group reported heavy use of cigarettes,” Yoon added.

A statistical analysis showed that adolescents who experienced early childhood physical abuse were 2.3 times more likely to be in the sharply increasing cigarette use group compared with the stable no/low group. Physical abuse during adolescence had an even stronger effect — this type of mistreatment at that point in life was linked to 3.7 times higher odds for sharply increased cigarette use. Adolescents who had been neglected during early childhood were 1.89 times more likely to be in the gradually increasing cigarette use group than in the stable no/low use group.

ALSO READ: Uranus Got Unusual Properties Because of Ancient Icy Impact: Study

About 40 per cent of these smokers had reported using cigarettes at age 16, and by age 18, more than 80 per cent were smokers, and about 40 per cent had smoked on more than 20 days in the previous year, the study said. (IANS)