Heavy metal contamination of vegetables in Isfahan, Iran

A Jafarian Dehkordi, M Alehashem

Abstract


Vegetables are an inevitable and important part of a healthy and balanced diet. They could be contaminated by heavy metals in many ways including irrigation by sewage water and industrial effluents sewage sludge, vehicular emissions, industrial waste and atmospheric deposition. In this study, we sought to determine if some vegetables (cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce, potatoes, onions, carrots, persian leeks, dill, spinach, coriander, parsley) grown locally in the suburban of Isfahan city and sold in the urban markets are contaminated with cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr) and lead (Pb). Vegetables were sampled from August to October 2010. After washing, they were oven-dried and digested using three-acid mixture (70% HNO3, 65% HClO4 and 70% H2SO4). Analyzes of the heavy metals was performed using atomic absorption spectrophotometry. To validate the assay method, intra-day and inter-day variation studies were performed. The concentrations (mg/g) of heavy metals in the samples ranged from 0.00 to 3.66 for Cd, 0.00 to 6.00 for Cr and 0.00 to 7.14 for Pb. The highest concentration of heavy metals was for Pb. The results showed that the amount of Cd, Cr and Pb of some samples exceeded the recommended levels. The amount of Cd in cucumber, tomatoes, potatoes with skin, carrots, and spinach was significantly higher in the samples collected from Isfahanak, Dashti and Ilchi farms than those of Dorche farms. Also, the amount of Cr in onion, carrots, and spinach was significantly higher in samples collected from Isfahanak, Dashti and Ilchi farms than those of Dorche farms. However, the amount of Pb in the carrots and leek was significantly higher in the samples collected from Dorche farms than those of Isfahanak, Dashti and Ilchi farms. It can be concluded from the findings of this study that the amounts of Cd, Cr, and Pb were higher than the acceptable levels recommended by WHO/FAO. Also, higher amount of Cd and Cr in some samples collected from Isfahanak, Dashti and Ilchi farms compared to that of the samples collected from Dorche farms may indicate the influence of contaminants that enter ZayadeRood River as it passes Isfahan.


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