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Managing health risks in urban agriculture: The effect of vegetable washing for reducing exposure to metal contaminants
Department of Biology and Environmental Science, Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden.
Department of Biology and Environmental Science, Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden.
Department of Biology and Environmental Science, Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden.
The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, AB15 8QH, UK.
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2023 (English)In: Science of the Total Environment, ISSN 0048-9697, E-ISSN 1879-1026, Vol. 863, article id 160996Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A common, yet poorly evaluated, advice to remove contaminants from urban vegetables is to wash the produce before consumption. This study is based on 63 samples of chard, kale, lettuce and parsley that have grown near a heavily trafficked road in the third largest city in Sweden, with one portion of each sample being analysed without first being washed, and the other portion being subjected to common household washing. Concentrations of 71 elements were analysed by ICP-SFMS after a sample digestion that dissolves both the plant tissues and all potentially adhering particles. The results show that the washing effect, or the fraction removed upon washing, varies significantly between elements: from approximately 0 % for K to 68 % for the ∑REEs. Considering traditional metal contaminants, the efficiency decreased from Pb (on average 56 % lost) to Co (56 %) > Cr (55 %) > As (45 %) > Sb (35 %) > Ni (33 %) > Cu (13 %) > Zn (7 %) > Cd (7 %), and Ba (5 %). A clear negative correlation between the washing effect and the different elements' bioconcentration factors shows that the elements' accessibility for plant uptake is a key controlling factor for the degree to which they are removed upon washing. Based on the average washing efficiencies seen in this study, the average daily intake of Pb would increase by 130 % if vegetables are not washed prior to consumption. For the other contaminant metals this increase corresponds to 126 % (Co), 121 % (Cr), 82 % (As), 55 % (Sb), 50 % (Ni), 16 % (Cu), 8 % (Zn), 7 % (Cd) and 5 % (Ba). The advice to wash vegetables is therefore, for many elements, highly motivated for reducing exposure and health risks. For elements which are only slightly reduced when the vegetables are washed, however, advising should rather focus on reducing levels of contamination in the soil itself.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier B.V. , 2023. Vol. 863, article id 160996
Keywords [en]
Risk assessment, Soil contamination, Soil particle adherence, Soil-plant transfer, Urban gardening, Vegetable washing
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Applied Geochemistry
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-95137DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.160996ISI: 000908653400001PubMedID: 36539086Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85144354171OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-95137DiVA, id: diva2:1723823
Funder
Linnaeus University
Note

Validerad;2023;Nivå 2;2023-01-04 (joosat);

Funder: ALS Scandinavia AB;

Licens fulltext: CC BY License

Available from: 2023-01-04 Created: 2023-01-04 Last updated: 2024-03-23Bibliographically approved

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Engström, EmmaRodushkin, Ilia

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