Since I can't grow dandelions for my guinea pigs, I will pick them from where ever they are growing, making sure that the areas I pick them from are isolated and not close to any obvious pollution sources.

My question is this: Can plants in general, and dandelions in particular, absorb pollution, or can I just wash them in water to make them safe?

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Absolutely, yes they can. Lead could a problem roadside (soil could be contaminated from the the days when leaded gas was available). Not sure how much you should be concerned as there appear to be a large number of variables. Here is a link to a publication discussing lead in the context of gardening. http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/pdf/8424.pdf

Weed killing spray roadside is toxic and common in some areas for controlling roadside vegetation. You may have seen from time to time roadside signage saying "no spray"... That's an indication the property owner doesn't want the spray since it is toxic, and agrees to maintain the road side.


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