General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

If you live in the landing path of an airport or near a highway, can you still grow and eat things from your yard?

Asked by Ltryptophan (10890points) May 24th, 2010

I am concerned that crops grown in my yard will be impacted by my neighboring transportation channels. Are the pollutants that come from plane and car emissions going to affect the veggies and fruits I grow?

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19 Answers

mandybookworm's avatar

The pollutants could cause Damage. The sound may also cause problems with sensative plants such as asparagus. I would research the issue more.

mandybookworm's avatar

No, but it could disrupt them. Certian plants don’t grow if there is a lot of noise.

Ltryptophan's avatar

ok, besides the sound pollution…..

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Just flat things like pancakes ;)
My personal opinion is that it can’t be any worse than the E-coli people get from store bought veggies.

Ltryptophan's avatar

lots of crops are grown right next to the highway though…especially sugarcane.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I know, but it doesn’t mean they should or that it’s good for consumption. I have seen various crops right on the side of the highway, but I cringe inwardly every time.

Ltryptophan's avatar


I really want to know if hydrocarbons, or other emissions, will get into the fruit. Or if the plant will only have these on the outside…

Maybe an enclosure would suffice.

MissAnthrope's avatar

From the second link I posted above:

PAHs are widely-distributed in the environment, almost ubiquitous, and have been detected in animal and plant tissues, sediments, soils, air, surface water, drinking water, industrial effluents, ambient river water, well water, and groundwater (EPA 1980).

Much of the PAHs released into the atmosphere eventually reaches the soil by direct deposition or by deposition on vegetation. The PAHs may be adsorbed or assimilated by plant leaves before entering the animal food chain, although some adsorbed PAHs may be washed off by rain, chemically oxidized to other products, or returned to the soil as the plants decay. PAHs assimilated by vegetation may be translocated, metabolized, and possibly photodegraded within the plant. In some plants growing in highly contaminated areas, assimilation may exceed metabolism and degradation, resulting in an accumulation in plant tissues (Edwards 1983).

Carcinogenic PAHs have been extracted from a large variety of fresh plants, including root and leaf vegetables, fruits, grains, and edible mushrooms, as well as from various marine bacteria and phytoplankton under circumstances suggesting that PAHs were present due to local biosynthesis (Suess 1976). Vegetation and soil near known PAH sources are more highly contaminated with PAHs than those collected at greater distances (Edwards 1983). PAH levels in lettuce (Lactuca sativa) grown in Sweden seemed to be directly related to its proximity to local recognized point sources of PAH emitters (Table 4; Larsson and Sahlberg 1982). Washing lettuce with water had little effect on phenanthrene levels, but significantly reduced other PAHs, such as benzo(a)pyrene, benz(a)anthracene, and benzo(g,h,i)perylene by 68% to 87% (Larsson and Sahlberg 1982). Fruits and vegetables grown in polluted atmospheres may contain up to 100X higher levels of total PAHs than those grown in unpolluted environments (EPA 1980; Lee and Grant 1981). PAH concentrations for plants are generally greater on plant surfaces than internal tissues, greater in above ground plant parts than those below ground, and greater in plants with broad leaves (greater surface area) than those with narrow leaves (Edwards 1983). Plants can become contaminated with PAHs through environmental pollution, particularly through deposition from the atmosphere, and also through food processing. For example, the bran portion of milled wheat, as well as finished bran cereal, had a considerably higher PAH content than other fractions or finished products (Lawrence and Weber 1984b). Enrichment of PAHs in plants is associated with deposition of atmospheric particulate matter with relatively small particle sizes; thus, PAH content is usually in the order of humus > mosses > lichens (Thomas et al. 1984). Mosses appear to be good indicators of regional PAH air pollution and have been recommended for this purpose (Herrmann and Hubner 1984). Concentrations of total PAHs in soils, usually the sum of 5 to 20 PAHs, typically exceeded benzo(a)pyrene levels by at least one order of magnitude; however, concentrations of benzo(a)pyrene in vegetation were generally less than those in soil where plants were growing (Edwards 1983).

YARNLADY's avatar

I wouldn’t. Have you looked at a car that has been parked outside your house? When I lived in the flight path, my car got covered with goo so bad I had to buy a cover to protect it, and replace the cover every few months because of the goo.

To test the residue level, set out a glass of clear water and look at it the next day.

perspicacious's avatar

Yes, usually. If you have a question about your soil, you can send samples in to have them checked. One of our state universities does it for free. I would think any large university with an ag school would do this.

john65pennington's avatar

Simple answer. before landing, jet planes normally disburse extra fuel to minimize a fire, in case of a crash. if this dispensed fuel is not evaporated in the air, then it falls to the ground and right on top of your veggies. if you do live in the glidepath of an airport, you are at ground zero for fuel dumping. i would not take the chance.

perspicacious's avatar

@john65pennington I’ve read something about this before and understood that this is not routine and only done when there is some special danger associated with the landing, such as ice or damage to the plane.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@MissAnthrope seems to have the most definitive answer, but it could apply to most vegetables I might buy. Anyone think an enclosure would suffice, or is anyone willing to argue potently for trying my native soil?

jeanmay's avatar

@Ltryptophan Don’t they have any allotments in your area, away from the highway and landing path?

Ltryptophan's avatar

@jeanmay will see…idk.

jeanmay's avatar

@Ltryptophan Not sure about where you live, but allotments in the UK are generally accessible and cheap. Some popular areas have long waiting lists though.

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