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Health risks of heavy metal exposure through vegetable consumption near a large-scale Pb/Zn smelter in central China TEXT SIZE: A A A
Smelting of nonferrous metals is an important source of heavy metals in surface soil. The crops/vegetables grown on contaminated soil potentially impose adverse effects on human health. In this study, the contamination level of five heavy metals (Hg, Pb, Zn, Cd and Cu) in ten types of vegetables grown nearby a large scale Pb/Zn smelter in Hunan Province, China and the health risk associated with their consumption are assessed. Based on the data obtained from 52 samples, we find that Pb and Cd contributed to the greatest health risk and leafy vegetables tend to be more contaminated than non-leafy vegetables. Within 4 km radius of the smelter, over 75% of vegetable samples exceeded the national food standard for Pb; over 47% exceeded the Cd standard; and 7% exceeded the Hg standard. Heavy metal concentrations in vegetables measured within the 4 km radius are on average three times more elevated compared to those found at the control area 15 km away. Heavy metals in vegetables have dual sources of root absorption from soil and leaf adsorption from atmosphere. Health risk in terms of the hazard index (HI) at contaminated areas are 3.66 and 3.14 for adults and children, respectively, suggesting adverse health effects would occur. HI for both groups are mainly contributed by Pb (48%) and Cd (40%). Fortunately, vegetable samples collected at the control area are considered safe to consume.

Publication name

 ECOTOXICOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL SAFETY, 161 99-110; 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2018.05.080 OCT 15 2018


 Li, Xinyu; Li, Zhonggen; Lin, Che-Jen; Bi, Xiangyang; Liu, Jinling; Feng, Xinbin; Zhang, Hua; Chen, Ji; Wu, Tingting

Corresponding author(s) 

 LI Zhonggen; FENG Xinbin
 lizhonggen@mail.gyig.ac.cn ; fengxinbin@mail.gyig.ac.cn  
 Chinese Acad Sci, Inst Geochem, State Key Lab Environm Geochem, Guiyang 550081, Guizhou, Peoples R China. 

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