Full Text:   <3634>

CLC number: X5

On-line Access: 

Received: 2006-05-02

Revision Accepted: 2006-07-24

Crosschecked: 0000-00-00

Cited: 60

Clicked: 7013

Citations:  Bibtex RefMan EndNote GB/T7714

-   Go to

Article info.
1. Reference List
Open peer comments

Journal of Zhejiang University SCIENCE B 2007 Vol.8 No.1 P.1-13


Assessing potential dietary toxicity of heavy metals in selected vegetables and food crops

Author(s):  ISLAM Ejaz ul, YANG Xiao-e, HE Zhen-li, MAHMOOD Qaisar

Affiliation(s):  MOE Key Lab of Environment Remediation and Ecosystem Health, School of Natural Resources and Environment Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310029, China; more

Corresponding email(s):   xyang@zju.edu.cn, xyang581@yahoo.com

Key Words:  Heavy metals, Dietary toxicity, Vegetables, Food crops

Share this article to: More |Next Article >>>

ISLAM Ejaz ul, YANG Xiao-e, HE Zhen-li, MAHMOOD Qaisar. Assessing potential dietary toxicity of heavy metals in selected vegetables and food crops[J]. Journal of Zhejiang University Science B, 2007, 8(1): 1-13.

@article{title="Assessing potential dietary toxicity of heavy metals in selected vegetables and food crops",
author="ISLAM Ejaz ul, YANG Xiao-e, HE Zhen-li, MAHMOOD Qaisar",
journal="Journal of Zhejiang University Science B",
publisher="Zhejiang University Press & Springer",

%0 Journal Article
%T Assessing potential dietary toxicity of heavy metals in selected vegetables and food crops
%A ISLAM Ejaz ul
%A YANG Xiao-e
%A HE Zhen-li
%J Journal of Zhejiang University SCIENCE B
%V 8
%N 1
%P 1-13
%@ 1673-1581
%D 2007
%I Zhejiang University Press & Springer
%DOI 10.1631/jzus.2007.B0001

T1 - Assessing potential dietary toxicity of heavy metals in selected vegetables and food crops
A1 - ISLAM Ejaz ul
A1 - YANG Xiao-e
A1 - HE Zhen-li
A1 - MAHMOOD Qaisar
J0 - Journal of Zhejiang University Science B
VL - 8
IS - 1
SP - 1
EP - 13
%@ 1673-1581
Y1 - 2007
PB - Zhejiang University Press & Springer
ER -
DOI - 10.1631/jzus.2007.B0001

heavy metals, such as cadmium, copper, lead, chromium and mercury, are important environmental pollutants, particularly in areas with high anthropogenic pressure. Their presence in the atmosphere, soil and water, even in traces can cause serious problems to all organisms, and heavy metal bioaccumulation in the food chain especially can be highly dangerous to human health. heavy metals enter the human body mainly through two routes namely: inhalation and ingestion, ingestion being the main route of exposure to these elements in human population. heavy metals intake by human populations through food chain has been reported in many countries. Soil threshold for heavy metal toxicity is an important factor affecting soil environmental capacity of heavy metal and determines heavy metal cumulative loading limits. For soil-plant system, heavy metal toxicity threshold is the highest permissible content in the soil (total or bioavailable concentration) that does not pose any phytotoxic effects or heavy metals in the edible parts of the crops does not exceed food hygiene standards. Factors affecting the thresholds of dietary toxicity of heavy metal in soil-crop system include: soil type which includes soil pH, organic matter content, clay mineral and other soil chemical and biochemical properties; and crop species or cultivars regulated by genetic basis for heavy metal transport and accumulation in plants. In addition, the interactions of soil-plant root-microbes play important roles in regulating heavy metal movement from soil to the edible parts of crops. Agronomic practices such as fertilizer and water managements as well as crop rotation system can affect bioavailability and crop accumulation of heavy metals, thus influencing the thresholds for assessing dietary toxicity of heavy metals in the food chain. This paper reviews the phytotoxic effects and bioaccumulation of heavy metals in vegetables and food crops and assesses soil heavy metal thresholds for potential dietary toxicity.

Darkslateblue:Affiliate; Royal Blue:Author; Turquoise:Article


[1] Arnesen, A.K.M., Singh, B.R., 1998. Plant uptake and DTPA-extractability of Cd, Cu, Ni and Zn in a Norwegian alum shale soil as affected by previous addition of dairy and pig manures and peat. Can. J. Soil Sci., 78(3):531-539.

[2] Bahemuka, T.E., Mubofu, E.B., 1999. Heavy metals in edible green vegetables grown along the sites of the Sinza and Msimbazi rivers in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Food Chem., 66(1):63-66.

[3] Baker, D.E., 1990. Copper. In: Alloway, B.J. (Ed.), Heavy Metals in Soils. John Wiley & Sons, New York, p.151-196.

[4] Barone, A., Ebesh, O., Harper, R.G., Wapnir, R.A., 1998. Placental copper transport in rats: effects of elevated dietary zinc on fetal copper, iron and metallothionien. J. Nutr., 128(6):1037-1041.

[5] Bilos, C., Colombo, J.C., Skorupka, C.N., Rodriguez Presa, M.J., 2001. Source, distribution and variability of airborne trace metals in La Plata City area, Argentina. Environ. Pollut., 111(1):149-158.

[6] Brooks, R.R., 1998. Phytochemistry of Hyperaccumulators. In: Plants that Hyperaccumulate Heavy Metals. CAB International, Wallingford, p.15-53.

[7] Brooks, R.R., Robinson, B.H., 1998. Aquatic Phytoremediation by Accumulator Plants. In: Brooks, R.R. (Ed.), Plants that Hyperaccumulate Heavy Metals. CAB International, Wallingford, p.203-226.

[8] Brooks, R.R., Chambers, M.F., Nicks, L.J., Robinson, B.H., 1998. Phytomining. Trends Plant Sci., 3(9):359-362.

[9] Cajuste, L.J., Cruz-Diaz, J., Garcia-Osorio, C., 2000. Extraction of heavy metals from contaminated soils. I. Sequential extraction in surface soils and their relationships to DTPA extractable metals and metal plant uptake. J. Environ. Sci. Health, A35:1141-1152.

[10] Cambra, K., Martínez, T., Urzelai, A., Alonso, E., 1999. Risk analysis of a farm area near a lead- and cadmium-contaminated industrial site. J. Soil Contam., 8(5):527-540.

[11] Chinese Department of Preventive Medicine, 1994. Threshold for Food Hygiene. China Standard Press, Beijing (in Chinese).

[12] Chinese Department of Preventive Medicine, 1995. Threshold for Food Hygiene. China Standard Press, Beijing (in Chinese).

[13] Chronopoulos, J., Haidouti, C., Chronopoulou-Sereli, A., Massas, I., 1997. Variations in plant and soil lead and cadmium content in urban parks in Athens, Greece. Sci. Total Environ., 196(1):91-98.

[14] Coutate, T.P., 1992. Food, the Chemistry of Its Component, 2nd Ed. Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, p.265.

[15] Dabeca, R.W., McKenzie, A.D., Lacroix, G.M.A., 1987. Dietary intakes of lead, cadmium, arsenic and fluoride by Canadian adults, a 24 hours duplicate diet study. Food Addit. Contam., 4:89-102.

[16] Damek-Poprawa, M., Sawicka-Kapusta, K., 2003. Damage to liver, kidney, and teatis with reference to burden of heavy metals in yellow-necked mice from areas around steelworks and zinc smelters in Poland. Toxicology, 186(1-2):1-10.

[17] Darmawa, M., Wada, S.I., 1999. Kinetics of speciation of copper, lead, and zinc loaded to soils that differ in cation exchanger composition at low moisture content. Commun. Soil Sci. Plant Anal., 30(30):2363-2375.

[18] DEFRA (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), 1999. Total Diet Study—Aluminium, Arsenic, Cadmium, Chromium, Copper, Lead, Mercury, Nickel, Selenium, Tin and Zinc. The Stationery Office, London.

[19] DEFRA (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and Environment Agency, 2002a. Contaminated Land Exposure Assessment Model (CLEA): Technical Basis and Algorithms. Bristol, UK.

[20] DEFRA (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and Environment Agency, 2002b. Assessment of Risks to Human Health from Land Contamination: An Overview of the Development of Soil Guideline Values and Related Research, CLR7. Bristol, UK.

[21] DETR (Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions), 2000. Contaminated Land: Implementation of Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The Stationery Office, London.

[22] Dick, G.L., Hughes, J.T., Mitchell, J.W., David, F., 1978. Survey of trace elements and pesticides in New Zealand. J. Sci., 21:57-69.

[23] Doran, P.M., 1997. Hairy Roots: Culture and Applications. Harwood, Amsterdam, p.239.

[24] Dudka, S., Miller, W.P., 1999. Permissible concentrations of arsenic and lead in soils based on risk assessment. Water Air Soil Poll., 113(1/4):127-132.

[25] Ellen, G., Loon, J.W., Tolsma, K., 1990. Heavy metals in vegetables grown in the Netherlands and in domestic and imported fruits. Z. Lebensm. Unters. Forsch., 190(1):34-39.

[26] Fergusson, J.E., 1990. The Heavy Elements: Chemistry, Environmental Impact and Health Effects. Pergamin Press, Oxford, p.382-399.

[27] Fox, B.A., 1982. Food Science. Holder and Stoughton, London.

[28] Gyorffy, E.J., Chan, H., 1992. Copper deficiency and mycrocytic anemia resulting from prolonged ingestion of over-the-counter zinc. Am. J. Gastroenterol., 87:1054-1055.

[29] Hawley, J.K., 1985. Assessment of health risk from exposure to contaminated soil. Risk Anal., 5(4):289-302.

[30] Homer, F.A., Reeves, R.D., Brooks, R.R., Baker, A.J.M., 1991. Characterization of the nickel-rich extract from the nickel hyperaccumulator Dichapetalum gelonioides. Phytochemistry, 30(7):2141-2145.

[31] Hough, R.L., Breward, N., Young, S.D., Crout, N.M., Tye, A.M., Moir, A.M., Thornton, I., 2004. Assessing potential risk of heavy metal exposure from consumption of home-produced vegetables by urban populations. Environ. Health Perspect., 112(2):215-221.

[32] Hughes, J.B., Shanks, J., Vanderford, M., Lauritzen, J., Bhadra, R., 1997. Transformation of TNT by aquatic plants and plant tissue cultures. Environ. Sci. Technol., 31(1):266-271.

[33] ICRCL (Inter-Departmental Committee on the Redevelopment of Contaminated Land), 1987. Guidance on the Assessment and Redevelopment of Contaminated Land, 2nd Ed. The Stationery Office, London.

[34] Kersten, W.J., Brooks, R.R., Reeves, R.D., Jaffré, T., 1980. Nature of nickel complexes in Psychotria douarrei and other nickel-accumulating plants. Phytochemistry, 19(9):1963-1965.

[35] Kiekens, L., 1990. Zinc. In: Alloway, B.J. (Ed.), Heavy Metals in Soils. John Wiley & Sons, New York, p.261-279.

[36] Konz, J., Lisi, K., Friebele, E., 1989. Exposure Factors Handbook. EPA/600/8-89/043. US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Health and Environmental Assessment, Washington DC.

[37] Krämer, U., Cotter-Howells, J.D., Charnock, J.M., Baker, A.J.M., Smith, J.A.C., 1996. Free histidine as a metal chelator in plants that accumulate nickel. Nature, 379(6566):635-638.

[38] Kuo, S., Heilman, P.E., Baker, S., 1983. Distribution and forms of copper, zinc, cadmium, iron, and manganese in soils near a copper smelter. Soil Sci., 135:101-109.

[39] Lăcătuşu, R., Răuţă, C., Cârstea, S., Ghelase, I., 1996. Soil-plant-man relationships in heavy metal polluted areas in Romania. Applied Geochem., 11(1-2):105-107.

[40] Long, X.X., Yang, X.E., Ni, W.Z., Ye, Z.Q., He, Z.L., Calvert, D.V., Stoffella, J.P., 2003. Assessing zinc thresholds for phytotoxicity and potential dietary toxicity in selected vegetable crops. Commun. Soil Sci. Plant Anal., 34(9 & 10):1421-1434.

[41] Ma, Q.Y., Traina, S.J., Logan, T.J., 1994. Effect of aqueous Al, Cd, Fe(II), Ni and Zn on Pb immobilization by hydroxyapatite. Environ. Sci. Technol., 28(7):1219-1228.

[42] Macek, T., Kotrba, P., Suchova, M., Skacel, F., Demnerova, K., Ruml, T., 1994. Accumulation of cadmium by hairy-root cultures of Solanum nigrum. Biotechnol. Lett., 16(6):621-624.

[43] Maitani, T., Kubota, H., Sato, K., Takeda, M., Yoshihira, K., 1996. Induction of phytochelatin (class III metallothionein) and incorporation of copper in transformed hairy roots of Rubia tinctorum exposed to cadmium. J. Plant Physiol., 147:743-748.

[44] McKone, T.E., 1994. Uncertainty and variability in human exposures to soil contaminants through homegrown food: a Monte Carlo assessment. Risk Anal., 14(4):449-463.

[45] Metzger, L., Fouchault, I., Glad, C., Prost, R., Tepfer, D., 1992. Estimation of cadmium availability using transformed roots. Plant Soil, 143(2):249-257.

[46] Miner, G.S., Gutierrez, R., King, L.D., 1997. Soil factors affecting plant concentration of cadmium, copper, and zinc on sludge-amended soils. J. Environ. Qual., 26(4):989-994.

[47] Msaky, J.J., Calvert, R., 1990. Adsorption behavior of copper and zinc in soils: influence of pH on adsorption characteristics. Soil Sci., 150(2):513-522.

[48] Nedelkoska, T.V., Doran, P.M., 2000. Hyperaccumulation of cadmium by hairy roots of Thlaspi caerulescens. Biotechnol. Bioeng., 67(5):607-615.

[49] Ni, W.Z., Long, X.X., Yang, X.E., 2002. Studies on the criteria of cadmium pollution in growth media of vegetable crops based on the hygienic limit of cadmium in food. J. Plant Nutr., 25(5):957-968.

[50] Nriagu, J.O., 1989. A global assessment of natural sources of atmospheric trace metals. Nature, 338(6210):47-49.

[51] Pollard, A.J., Baker, A.J.M., 1996. Quantitative genetics of zinc hyperaccumulation in Thlaspi caerulescens. N. Phytol., 132(1):113-118.

[52] Reilly, C., 1991. Metal Contamination of Food, 2nd Ed. Elsevier Applied Science, London.

[53] Robinson, B.H., Chiarucci, A., Brooks, R.R., Petit, D., Kirkman, J.H., Gregg, P.E.H., de Dominicis, V., 1997a. The nickel hyperaccumulator plant Alyssum bertolonii as a potential agent for phytoremediation and phytomining of nickel. J. Geochem. Explor., 59(2):75-86.

[54] Robinson, B.H., Brooks, R.R., Howes, A.W., Kirkman, J.H., Gregg, P.E.H., 1997b. The potential of the high-biomass nickel hyperaccumulator Berkheya coddii for phytoremediation and phytomining. J. Geochem. Explor., 60(2):115-126.

[55] Ruby, M.V., Schoof, R., Brattin, W., Goldade, M., Post, G., Harnois, M., Mosby, D.E., Casteel, S.W., Berti, W., Carpenter, M., et al., 1999. Advances in evaluating the oral bioavailability of inorganics in soil for use in human risk assessment. Environ. Sci. Technol., 33(21):3697-3705.

[56] Sagner, S., Kneer, R., Wanner, G., Cosson, J.P., Deus-Neumann, B., Zenk, M.H., 1998. Hyperaccumulation, complexation and distribution of nickel in Sebertia acuminata. Phytochemistry, 47(3):339-347.

[57] Salgueiro, M.J., Zubillaga, M., Lysionek, A., Sarabia, M.I., Caro, R., Paoli, T.D., Hager, A., Weill, R., Boccio, J., 2000. Zinc as an essential micronutrient: a review. Nutr. Res., 20(5):737-755.

[58] Salt, D.E., Smith, R.D., Raskin, I., 1998. Phytoremediation. Annu. Rev. Plant Physiol. Plant Mol. Biol., 49(1):643-668.

[59] Sánchez-Camazano, M., Sánchez-Martín, M.J., Lorenzo, L.F., 1994. Lead and cadmium in soils and vegetables from urban gardens of Salamanca (Spain). Sci. Total Environ., 146/147:163-168.

[60] Shen, Z.G., Zhao, F.J., McGrath, S.P., 1997. Uptake and transport of zinc in the hyperaccumulator Thlaspi caerulescens and the non-hyperaccumulator Thlaspi ochroleucum. Plant Cell Environ., 20(7):898-906.

[61] Shuman, L.M., 1991. Chemical Forms of Micronutrient in Soils. In: Micronutrient in Agriculture, 2nd Ed. SSSA Book Series, Soil Science Society of America, Madison WI, p.113-144.

[62] Song, J., 2002. Assessment of Phytoavailability of Soil Metals and Phytoremediation of Soils Contaminated with Copper. PhD Thesis, Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Sciences, China (in Chinese).

[63] Sterrett, S.B., Chaney, R.L., Gifford, C.H., Meilke, H.W., 1996. Influence of fertilizer and sewage sludge compost on yield of heavy metal accumulation by lettuce grown in urban soils. Environ. Geochem. Health, 18(4):135-142.

[64] Thompson, H.C., Kelly, W.C., 1990. Vegetable Crops, 5th Ed. MacGraw Hill Publishing Company Ltd., New Delhi.

[65] Tolrà, R.P., Poschenrieder, C., Barceló, J., 1996a. Zinc hyperaccumulation in Thlaspi caerulescens. I. Influence on growth and mineral nutrition. J. Plant Nutr., 19(12):1531-1540.

[66] Tolrà, R.P., Poschenrieder, C., Barceló, J., 1996b. Zinc hyperaccumulation in Thlaspi caerulescens. II. Influence on organic acids. J. Plant Nutr., 19(12):1541-1550.

[67] Türkdogan, M.K., Kilicel, F., Kara, K., Tuncer, I., Uygan, I., 2003. Heavy metals in soil, vegetables and fruit in the endemic upper gastrointestinal cancer region of Turkey. Environ. Toxicol. Pharmacol., 13(3):175-179.

[68] van Lune, P., 1987. Cadmium and lead in soils and crops from allotment gardens in the Netherlands. Neth. J. Agric. Sci., 35:207-210.

[69] Vázquez, M.D., Barceló, J., Poschenrieder, C., Mádico, J., Hatton, P., Baker, A.J.M., Cope, G.H., 1992. Localization of zinc and cadmium in Thlaspi caerulescens (Brassicaceae), a metallophyte than can hyperaccumulate both metals. J. Plant Physiol., 140(3):350-355.

[70] Wierzbicka, M., 1995. How lead loses its toxicity to plants. Acta Soc. Bot. Pol., 64:81-90.

[71] Wong, J.W.C., 1996. Heavy metal contents in vegetables and market garden soils in Hong Kong. Environ. Technol., 17(4):407-414.

[72] Xiong, Z.T., Wang, H., 2005. Copper toxicity and bioaccumulation in Chinese cabbage (Brassica pekinensis Rupr.). Environ. Toxicol., 20(2):188-194.

[73] Yang, Z.Y., Zhang, F.S., 1993. The lead of soil-plant systems. Progress in Soil Science, 21(5):1-10 (in Chinese).

[74] Yang, X.E., Long, X.X., Ni, W.Z., Ye, Z.Q., He, Z.L., Stoffella, P.J., Calvert, D.V., 2002. Assessing copper thresholds for phytotoxicity and potential dietary toxicity in selected vegetables crops. J. Environ. Sci. Health, B37(6):625-635.

[75] Zhang, K.S., Zhou, Q.X., 2005. Toxic effects of Al-based coagulants on Brassica chinensis and Raphanus sativus growing in acid and neutral conditions. Environ. Toxicol., 20(2):179-187.

[76] Zurera-Cosano, G., Moreno-Rojas, R., Salmeron-Egea, J., Pozo Lora, R., 1989. Heavy metal uptake from greenhouse border soils for edible vegetables. J. Sci. Food Agric., 49(3):307-314.

Open peer comments: Debate/Discuss/Question/Opinion


Sarojni Rai@University of Allahabad<sarojnirai1984@gmail.com>

2011-05-11 14:03:25

Work is really good

Please provide your name, email address and a comment

Journal of Zhejiang University-SCIENCE, 38 Zheda Road, Hangzhou 310027, China
Tel: +86-571-87952783; E-mail: cjzhang@zju.edu.cn
Copyright © 2000 - 2024 Journal of Zhejiang University-SCIENCE