Accumulation of heavy metals in vegetables grown in contaminated soils

ENKELEDA SHKURTA1*, FRAN GJOKA1, LIRI MIHO1, MARCO CONTIN2, ELIAN KASA1

1Department of Agroenvironment and Ecology, Agricultural University of Tirana, Tirana, Albania

2University of Udine, Italy

*Corresponding author e-mail: ledi.mera@yahoo.com

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Abstract

Heavy metals are known for their adverse health effects. This study analysed total contents of heavy metals in common vegetables grown in contaminated soils from industrial and agricultural areas in northwestern Albania. The aim was to evaluate the human health risk of these metals through the consumption of contaminated vegetables. The concentrations of Cd, Cr, Ni, Cu, Zn and Pb. in vegetable samples collected from industrial, agricultural and reference areas were measured in HNO3-H2O2 extract by using Atomic Absorption Spectrometer Varian SpectraA-200. The obtained results showed that all heavy metals were present in investigated plant samples and the highest concentrations (mg/kg) of Cd (0.236), Pb (0.949), Ni (3.67) and Cu (17.96) were found in samples from industrial area, Cr (2.84) and Zn (65.83) in samples from reference area, indicating different sources of metal contamination in vegetables. The Ni and clay in industrial area, Ni and Cu in agricultural area, and Cr and Ni in reference area were strongly correlated (r=0.979**; r=0.963**, r=0.955*, respectively; p<<0.05), suggesting a common origin of the paired metals. The Pb concentration in all plant samples from industrial and agricultural areas, Cd concentration in 80% of samples from industrial area, and Zn concentration in 40% and 80% of plant samples respectively from industrial and reference areas exceed the safe limit set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission for human consumption. In other cases concentrations of heavy metals were below the safe limits. For this reason, regular monitoring of heavy metals in vegetables grown in contaminated areas is important to ensure food safety and quality.

Keywords: Contaminated soil, health risk, heavy metal, vegetable

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