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Concentration of cadmium in cacao beans and its relationship with soil cadmium in southern Ecuador

Chavez, E., He, Z. L., Stoffella, P. J., Mylavarapu, R. S., Li, Y. C., Moyano, B., Baligar, V. C.
Science of the total environment 2015 v.533 pp. 205-214
Theobroma cacao, agricultural soils, anthropogenic activities, cadmium, cocoa beans, farms, hydrochloric acid, leaves, prediction, soil depth, soil pollution, trees, Ecuador
Cadmium(Cd) content in cacao beans above a critical level (0.6mgkg−1) has raised concerns in the consumption of cacao-based chocolate. Little is available regarding Cd concentration in soil and cacao in Ecuador. The aim of this study was to determine the status of Cd in both, soils and cacao plants, in southern Ecuador. Soil samples were collected from 19 farms at 0–5, 5–15, 15–30, and 30–50 cm depths, whereas plant samples were taken from four nearby trees. Total recoverable and extractable Cd were measured at the different soil depths. Total recoverable Cd ranged from 0.88 to 2.45 and 0.06 to 2.59, averaged 1.54 and 0.85 mg kg−1, respectively in the surface and subsurface soils whereas the corresponding values for M3-extractable Cd were 0.08 to 1.27 and 0.02 to 0.33with mean values of 0.40 and 0.10 mg kg−1. Surface soil in all sampling sites had total recoverable Cd above the USEPA critical level for agricultural soils (0.43 mg kg−1), indicating that Cd pollution occurs. Since both total recoverable and M3-extractable Cd significantly decreased depth wise, anthropogenic activities are more likely the source of contamination. Cadmium in cacao tissues decreased in the order of beans N shellN N leaves. Cadmium content in cacao beans ranged from 0.02 to 3.00, averaged 0.94 mg kg−1, and 12 out of 19 sites had bean Cd content above the critical level. Bean Cd concentration was highly correlated with M3- or HCl-extractable Cd at both the 0–5and5–15cmdepths (r=0.80 and 0.82 forM3, and r=0.78 and 0.82 for HCl; P b 0.01). These results indicate that accumulation of Cd in surface layers results in excessive Cd in cacao beans and M3- or HCl extractable Cd are suitable methods for predicting available Cd in the studied soils.