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Human health risks of heavy metals in paddy rice based on transfer characteristics of heavy metals from soil to rice

Mao, Changping, Song, Yinxian, Chen, Lingxiao, Ji, Junfeng, Li, Jizhou, Yuan, Xuyin, Yang, Zhongfang, Ayoko, Godwin A., Frost, Ray L., Theiss, Frederick
Catena 2019 v.175 pp. 339-348
arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, cropland, ecosystems, food chain, food safety, heavy metals, human health, humans, lead, monitoring, neoplasms, rice, risk, river deltas, shoots, soil pH, Yangtze River
In order to investigate the transfer and accumulation pathways of heavy metals in cropland ecosystems, an investigation of the geochemical behaviors of heavy metals in soil and rice plants was carried out in the Yangtze River Delta. Soil is one of the biggest reservoirs of heavy metals and affects food safety at the beginning of the food chain. The results of this study demonstrate that heavy metal levels in soil decreased with increasing soil pH, while rice shoots accumulated heavy metals more readily under low soil pH conditions. The non-carcinogenic hazard quotients (HQ) of heavy metals show that health risks for humans were primarily due to Pb and As. Furthermore, cancer risk (Risk) results suggested that ~76% and ~15.7% of cancer risk was caused by Cd and As levels, respectively. Decreasing soil pH enhanced the non-carcinogenic and carcinogenic health risks for the human body. Through exponential change between transfer factor (TFgrain/soil) and soil metals, HQ, a direct monitoring method for rice plants, was built using regression curves. It is proposed that besides condition of soil with high heavy metal concentration, for rice grown with surface soil metals, the safety of the rice product should be monitored when soil metals are under the following levels after harvest: non-carcinogenic risk, As < 20 mg/kg, Pb < 100 mg/kg, Cd < 0.07–0.68 mg/kg and Cu 7.56–30.87 mg/kg; and cancer risk, As < 20 mg/kg, Cd < 4 mg/kg and Cr < 200 mg/kg.