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Human Health Risk From Consumption Of Two Common Crops Grown In Polluted Soils.

Flora Angela Rutigliano, Rossana Marzaioli, Saverio De Crescenzo, Marco Trifuoggi
Published 2019 · Medicine, Chemistry
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Contamination of agricultural soils by trace elements is a recurrent hazard for human health because of the possibility of pollutants entering the food chain. Aim of this study was to assess the human health risk from consumption of the common leafy (Lactuca sativa L.) and fruit (Cucurbita pepo L.) crops, in an agricultural area of Southern Italy. Along with agricultural practices, a major pollutant source is recurrent flooding from the highly polluted Solofrana river. Soil samples and edible parts of crops from 14 sites (10 flooded and 4 not flooded) were analyzed for total amounts of As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, V, Zn. The bio-accumulation factor (BAF) and Health Risk Index (HRI) were calculated for each element, crop and site and as average values of all sites (BAFmean and HRImean). Moreover, the Hazard Index (HI) was determined for each site, as the sum of HRI for all elements. Cr and Cu, mostly derived from river flooding and agricultural practices, respectively, were the only elements whose levels exceeded law thresholds and/or the natural background of the study area. Of the two considered crops, L. sativa accumulated more Cd, Cr and Ni, whereas C. pepo was a more effective bioaccumulator of Zn. Both HRImean (for As, Cd, Cr and Ni) and HI were higher for L. sativa than for C. pepo. A low health risk was associated to major soil pollutants (Cr and Cu) found in the study area; in contrast, combined data on soil pollution and plant bio-accumulation points to accumulation of Cd and As, mainly in lettuce, as a potential risk for human health. The results suggest that soil pollution data alone is not sufficient to assess health risk.
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