AROUND 50 Calderdale allotment holders have been told not to eat their produce after horrifying levels of contamination were discovered.
Vegetables grown at the Milner Royd site in Sowerby Bridge were found to contain high doses of arsenic, lead and various hydrocarbons. Plot-holders had asked for their veg to be tested after worries over contamination. The land, which neighbours a former landfill site, is owned by Calderdale Council.
Environmental Health officers have now told allotment holders not to eat produce from the site until further notice.
They tested parsnips, kale, leeks and two seperate batches of brussel sprouts from four allotments.
Kale from one allotment was found to have 190 times more lead than would be allowed to be sold in a supermarket. The same sample was also found to have almost four times the acceptable level of arsenic.
All the tested vegetables had higher than acceptable levels of lead.
The lowest trace of lead was still 1.3 times more than would be allowed on sale in a supermarket.
Up to 20 hydro-carbons were also found in some or all of the vegetables.
A statement from the allotment group said: “Plot holders pay rent to the Council, put in a great deal of work on their land, and are economically dependent on their produce. This is particularly true of the families with children. However children are most at risk from contaminated land.
“The Council needs to undertake a systematic assessment of the allotments. If they are not suitable for food production, they will need to take action to provide plot holders with suitable allotments.”
Head of the Chemical and Biological species at Huddersfield University Dr Roger Dewsbury said the results were worrying.
“There are things that are thought to be dangerous.
“Hydrocarbons are suspected carcinogens but we just don’t know.”
He said research into hydro-carbons was continuing.
“People are constantly researching hydro-carbons because there’s concerns about them being in the environment.”
He said some research had linked lead poisoning to brain damage in children.
The site is one of those which could face redevelopment as part of the £62.5m Copley Valley transformational project.
One of the reports commissioned by developers Genr8 and published on the Calderdale Council website on January 19 contains details of soil tests made across the proposed development.
Included in the 400-page report was reference to “exceedances” of hydrocarbons being found at the boundary of the Milner Royd landfill.
Head of Housing and Environment, Mark Thompson said: “Food Safety is a priority and we are advising caution while we carry out a more detailed assessment. We will keep the allotment holders fully informed of results.”
Substances found in the land
Is used in the production or application of pesticides.
Exposure can come from contaminated water, air, and food.
Arsenic is related to heart disease, cancer, stroke, respiratory diseases and diabetes
Exposure can stem from air, water, soil, food, and consumer products.
Lead paint exists in many homes, especially older homes.