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picking fruit by a gas station?

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picking fruit by a gas station?

Postby rebeccaa » Sep 07, 2011 6:05 pm

i'm wondering if it's okay to pick some crabapples that are growing at a gas station (you know how they have little bits of green at gas stations). do you think this would be safe? or would they be contaminated? is it also okay to pick fruit that is growing right next to a busy road? would the pollution make the fruit unsafe to eat?
thanks!
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Re: picking fruit by a gas station?

Postby Ian66 » Sep 07, 2011 11:03 pm

There are better places to pick fruit than the site you stated....but if you do/have picked the crabapples, I would definitely wash them thoroughly.....that being said, the apples and other produce found at local orchards etc have been sprayed with a number of fungicides and insecticides.....so, all produce, no matter where it is obtained, should be washed before consuming......

Ian
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Re: picking fruit by a gas station?

Postby Katherine » Sep 09, 2011 10:00 pm

Well first of all, not all gas station soils are contaminated. So it may not be a risk to eat fruit growing in soils, except if they occur near underground tanks.

Here is the toxicology. Sorry if its a bit boring and complicated. The main concern is the potential uptake of the MAH compounds, e.g. monocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (MAHs: benzene, toluene, ehtylbenzene and xylenes) from fuels that are potentially in soils and therefore taken up in fruit. Washing them is not going to remove them from the fruit. Its not a surficial exposure its uptake. If you have consumed them already, the risk of exposure is usually low, but there is a reason why gas station soils are removed, especially older ones, as older tanks corrode and fuel seeps into the soil. So no, I would not touch these with out determining if they are free of the BTEX MAH compounds. Certainly would not feed these to my family on a regular basis.

Also there is big dif between pesticides and fuel. The substances in fuels are a more serious risk to human health (when eaten) than pesticides used in agriculture. Neither groups are substances I would want to expose my family to through thier diet for any length of time.

Hope this helps.
Kat
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Re: picking fruit by a gas station?

Postby rebeccaa » Sep 09, 2011 11:11 pm

thanks for the detailed response! i didn't know all of that.
well, the particular fruit that i'm wondering about is an elderberry that's growing in a raised bed by the gas station. it's about 25 feet away from the gas pumps. i'm thinking the roots wouldn't be deep enough to be near the vicinity of the tanks? what do you think?
thanks
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Re: picking fruit by a gas station?

Postby Katherine » Sep 09, 2011 11:59 pm

I just wouldnt do it. You dont know where the tanks are or thier age. The tanks can be off set from the pumps in all kinds of odd locations. Some of these tanks can be shallow and the fuels can be residual near the surface. Maybe they are just fine, but being a toxicology person, with BTEX as the potential contaminant, I just would not go there.. Like Ian says there are lots of other sources. There are serious laws regarding remediation of former gas station sites, for good reason. Its just not worth it. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Kat
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Re: picking fruit by a gas station?

Postby rebeccaa » Sep 10, 2011 6:59 pm

thanks! i'll follow that advice
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Re: picking fruit by a gas station?

Postby Jeannie » Sep 12, 2011 1:45 pm

Probably the tree has been there a long time and is, hopefully, producing a goodly volume of
fruit. Since your use of the fruit would involve "preserves", I wouldn't hesitate to use the apples.
The washing would be followed by heating so the presence of what might spoil their use is reduced by how much you fear any health hazard.

Not using any fruit that can give a desirable food is a big waste of the tree's production.
Crabapple jelly is a preserve that can be enjoyed in so many ways.


Question: Why does a chicken coop only have two doors?


A: Because if it had four doors it would be a sedan.
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Re: picking fruit by a gas station?

Postby Katherine » Sep 12, 2011 4:26 pm

Plain and simple, BTEX is a group of compounds that cause cancer. The group occurs in fuels, and is easily taken up in plants growing in BTEX contaminated soils. Preservation methods actually do not remove BTEX contaminants from a fruit and may actually increase its potential toxicity by increasing absorptiviy across the gut. This is IF the BTEX is actually present, and I guess my cautionary advice was dont take a chance because it is usually present in most gas station soils and subsoils. Ground water moves from adjacent sources, and is taken up by plants.

Again, there are really good reasons why there are laws regarding gas station land use, gas stations can not be used for crops after they are shut down, for the reasons I explained. The free fruit is just not worth the risk. There are tons of other safer places to obtain fruit for preserving or eating fresh.
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Re: picking fruit by a gas station?

Postby Lulu » Sep 13, 2011 10:21 am

As the owner of a gas station which has had over a million dollar soil removal & remediation done, Kate's advice is spot on!

Also, as a former tenant of house next door to a different property that was a decommissioned gas station, I can tell you from personal experience, that the contamination does migrate. I had gas in my well, leaching out, over 500 feet, from around the site where the tanks were removed, 20 years earlier. The landlord says he did not know the property was previously a gas station. I worry that some chemicals may have entered the water, prior to me becoming aware of it, because of the odor. I had a nice garden, but since it had been watered with that contaminated water, I chose to plow it under.

I have informed the new owners, but they have chosen to ignore the warning, and have a huge garden planted, every year. Why would anyone take a chance, especially when fruit and veggies are just so cheap at this time of the year.
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Re: picking fruit by a gas station?

Postby Katherine » Sep 13, 2011 11:41 am

Thanks Lulu, I had forgotten that you owned a station, I would have asked for you to join the discussion. Well more like a diatribe on my part, I guess :lol: I dont want people to be too alarmed either. Like I said you dont know if your soil is contaminated until you test it, and you dont know if there is uptake in the fruit until you have THAT tested also. But from a risk management perspective its best to just not bother when you are that close to an old gas station (i.e. 25 feet).

Did you read recently in the news about the leak in Vancouver? This is a very expensive part of Vancouver (what part isnt?) so its kind of timely as well. Note the distance this material can move in ground water. If anyone has any concerns about the influence on thier soils from any source, just ask the local soils lab for assistance in how to sample.

http://www.vancouversun.com/Leak+under+ ... story.html

Thanks again Lulu. I was starting to feel like the crazed science lady on here. kat
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