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Mercury accumulation and transformation of main leaf vegetable crops in Cambosol and Ferrosol soil in China

Bo Yang, Yi Gao, Chunxue Zhang, Xiangqun Zheng, Bo Li
Environmental science and pollution research international 2020 v.27 no.1 pp. 391-398
Brassica rapa subsp. chinensis, Coriandrum sativum, bioaccumulation, cabbage, chicory, fennel, food contamination, food plants, greenhouse experimentation, leaves, leeks, lettuce, mercury, models, polluted soils, risk, risk reduction, roots, soil pH, soil pollution, spinach, vegetable crops, China
Leaf vegetables serve as an important food for the local residents in China. This paper focuses on the uptake, accumulation, transfer, and mercury (Hg) sensitivity of leafy vegetables. Two types of soil (an alkaline Cambosol and an acid Ferrosol) and eleven species of leafy vegetable, namely, Spinach, Tung choy, Leek, Fennel, Coriander, Chinese flowering cabbage, Wuta-tsai, Pakchoi, Chicory, Crown daisy, and Lettuce, were selected to investigate their sensitivity to Hg accumulation in a greenhouse pot experiment. Three Hg concentration treatments were carried out as control (background values), low concentration (1.5 times standard value), and high concentration (2 times standard value) as adjusted by the soil pH. Hg concentrations of more than half vegetable samples grown in Cambosol (collected from Shandong Province) reached or exceeded the maximum permissible food safety levels (10 μg kg⁻¹) according to the General Standard of Contaminants in Food in China (GB 2762-2012), while only about 15% in Ferrosol (collected from Jiangxi Province). Meanwhile, Hg bio-concentration factors (BCF) in all treatments were < 1, while Hg translocation factors (TF) in most treatments were < 1. Correlation analysis among soil, root, and edible plant parts revealed that the principal source of Hg in leafy vegetables was most likely from Hg-contaminated soils. Species sensitivity distribution (SSD) models were constructed and their simulated curves indicated that sensitivity to Hg was highest in Pakchoi in low Hg-contaminated soils, and Chicory in highly Hg-contaminated soils. Therefore, Hg concentration is mostly accumulated in roots of leafy crops, which reduces the risk of Hg bioaccumulation in edible portion of vegetables, and (2) Brassicaceae vegetables are mostly less sensitive to soil Hg contamination. Our results provide effective guidance for the selection of leafy vegetables for cultivation and daily consumption that minimizes health risk.