Gardenroots was developed by Mónica Ramírez-Andreotta, Superfund Research Program Training Core graduate student and former Research Translation Coordinator. She created the project in response to home gardening concerns in the Dewey-Humboldt, AZ community over possible metal contamination from the neighboring Iron King Mine and Humboldt Smelter Superfund site.

The overall objective of Gardenroots was to determine whether home garden vegetables grown in Dewey-Humboldt had elevated levels of arsenic. By building co-created public participation in a scientific research program, this project also looked to educate, build human capacity, and increase community networking in resource-related issues in the community.

Check out the Gardenroots website.


Gardenroots combined a home garden experiment with controlled greenhouse studies to meet the following project objectives:

  • Develop a citizen-science program to inform and engage community members
  • Characterize arsenic uptake in homegrown and greenhouse-grown vegetables
    • Home gardens (citizen-scientists): collect soil, water, and vegetable samples (of their choice)
    • Greenhouse: grow vegetables in soils with known concentrations of arsenic
    • Analyze water, soil, and vegetable samples for arsenic concentration
  • Estimate arsenic exposure and characterize potential risk
    • Combine measured arsenic concentrations with reported U.S. intake rates
    • Use exposure assessment modeling to estimate average daily dose of arsenic from vegetable, soil, and water (assuming the primary source of water for irrigation is also used for drinking) and associated potential risks
  • Report results back to participants in an effective and meaningful way

For additional details, please refer to Dr. Ramírez-Andreotta’s publications:

  • A greenhouse and field-based study to determine the accumulation of arsenic in common homegrown vegetables grown in mining-affected soils. Sci Total Environ. 2013 Jan 15;443:299-306. Download the PDF
  • Home gardening near a mining site in an arsenic-endemic region of Arizona: Assessing arsenic exposure dose and risk via ingestion of home garden vegetables, soils, and water. Sci Total Environ. 2013 June 1;454-455:373–382. Download the PDF
  • Building a co-created citizen science program with gardeners neighboring a Superfund site: The Gardenroots case study. In: Public Health: Improving Health via Inter-Professional Collaborations, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Eds: Caron RM and Merrick J. 2014. Download the PDF


In March of 2008, the Iron King Mine Humboldt Smelter Superfund site in Dewey-Humboldt, AZ was added to the U.S. Environmental Protections Agency (EPA) National Priorities List. At a U.S. EPA meeting in August 2008, members of the community asked whether it was safe to grow and consume vegetables from their garden. To answer this question, former Research Translation Coordinator Mónica Ramírez-Andreotta embarked on her doctoral career and began seeking funding. In 2010, residential soils were collected for greenhouse studies and local recruitment of gardeners to participate in the Gardenroots study began. Training sessions were held in March 2011, to instruct citizen-scientists in the collection of garden vegetables, as well as irrigation water and soil samples. Additional educational activities were offered, such as gardening seminars (May 2011), a community health talk with UA researchers (June 2011), and a tour of the UA laboratories where the concentrations of arsenic in the collected vegetable, water, and soil samples were being measured (Nov 2011). At the “Results for Lunch: Your Soil, Water and Vegetable Outcomes” luncheon (Jan 2012), participants were given personalized booklets showing the results for their individual gardens. Booklets included “raw” data (i.e. milligrams of arsenic per kilogram of vegetable, fresh weight), calculations of how much each participant could eat from his or her own garden at different levels of estimated risk, and estimated risks associated with individual water and soil samples. Handouts with recommended safe practices for gardening were also provided. A complete overview of the project was presented to Gardenroots participants and the Yavapai Master Gardeners (June 2012). In December 2012, overall project results handouts were sent to participants and other interested community members.

News and Highlights related to Gardenroots

Made Possible By

  • The Department of Environmental Science, The University of Arizona
  • The College of Pharmacy, The University of Arizona
  • Cooperative Extension, The University of Arizona
  • Superfund Research Program
  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency
  • Arizona Space Grant Consortium
  • Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
  • Water Sustainability Program
  • Town of Dewey-Humboldt


Ramírez-Andreotta MD, Walls R, Youens-Clark K, Blumberg K, Isaacs KE, Kaufmann D, Maier RM.
. Alleviating Environmental Health Disparities through Community Science and Data Integration.
Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems
Heusinkveld D, Ramírez-Andreotta MD, Rodriguez-Chavez TB, Saez EA, Betterton E, Rine K.
. Assessing a Children’s Integrated Exposure Model in an Active Mining Town. Exposure and Health.
Rodriguez-Chavez T, Rine K, Almusawi R, O'Brien-Metzger R, Ramirez-Andreotta MD, Betterton E, Saez AE.
. Outdoor/Indoor Contaminant Transport by Atmospheric Dust and Aerosol at an Active Smelter Site.
Water Air Soil Pollut
Davis LF, Ramírez-Andreotta MD.
. Participatory Research for Environmental Health Justice: A Critical Interpretive Synthesis.
Environmental Health Perspectives
Manjón I, Ramírez-Andreotta MD.
. A Dietary Assessment Tool to Estimate Arsenic and Cadmium Exposures from Locally Grown Foods.
Environmental geochemistry and health
Davis L, Ramirez-Andreotta M, Buxner S.
. Engaging diverse citizen scientists for environmental health: recommendations from participants and promotoras.
Citizen Science Journal
Manjón I, Ramírez-Andreotta MD, Saez AE, Root RA, Hild J, Janes K, Alexander-Ozinskas A.
. Ingestion and Inhalation of Metal(loid)s Through Preschool Gardening: An Exposure and Risk Assessment in Legacy Mining Communities.
Science of the Total Environment
718: 134639.
Dorsey Kaufmann , Monica D. Ramirez-Andreotta .
. Communicating the environmental health risk assessment process: formative evaluation and increasing comprehension through visual design..
Journal of Risk Research
Ramirez-Andreotta MD, Tapper A, Clough D, Carrera JS, Sandhaus S.
. Understanding the Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations Associated with Community Gardening to Improve Environmental Public Health Prevention and Intervention.
Int J Environ Res Public Health
Sandhaus S, Kaufmann D, Ramirez-Andreotta M.
. Public Participation, Trust and Data Sharing: Gardens as Hubs for Citizen Science and Environmental Health Literacy Efforts.
Int J Sci Educ B Commun Public Engagem
Manjon I, Ramírez-Andreotta MD, Sáez AE, Root RA, Hilde J, Janes MK, Alexander-Ozinskase A.
. Environmental monitoring and exposure science dataset to calculate ingestion and inhalation of metal(loid)s through preschool gardening.
Data in Brief
Sandhaus S, Ramírez-Andreotta MD, Kilungo A, Wolf AM, Sandoval F, Henriquez P.
. Combating Climate Injustices: An Informal Science and Popular Education Approach to Addressing Environmental Health Disparities.
Pedagogy in Health Promotion