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incendiary_dan's avatar

How long does runoff toxicity/contamination in plants last?

Asked by incendiary_dan (13305 points ) June 5th, 2011

As a lot of you know, I’m a big time forager. I’ve always read and always teach in my classes that you shouldn’t gather food or medicine plants near roadsides because runoffs from cars and exhaust add some toxic chemicals that can be absorbed by plants, especially ones like cattails that act as filters. Benzene is the biggest concern, as well as lead. Basically all foragers have seen prime spots to forage, only to say to themselves “If only it wasn’t next to that road!”

What I’m wondering is how long it would take for that toxicity to disappear, if ever, in the plants or environment in the event that the roads stopped being travelled. Is anyone familiar with related research?

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6 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Lead from gasoline/petrol last for a long – long time.

rooeytoo's avatar

This sounds like a question you would normally be answering, not asking. I am interested but have no knowledge. Hopefully we will both learn.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Yea, I’ve known a lot about the toxicity in roadside plants for a while, but I’ve never seen references to how long it might last. Maybe too few roads go out of service for anyone to take notice. Thought some of the more hard-science type folks here might know. Oh well.

jyjy's avatar

Nowday,a lot of food is toxic.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@jyjy I just happen to be watching The Future of Food right now.

In general, when I forage wild foods, I think about it as being less contaminated than the stuff at the store, just like “organic” food is.

snowberry's avatar

Excellent question. I can’t contribute, but I’m following the discussion.

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