Heavy metals in wheat grain: assessment of potential health risk for inhabitants in Kunshan, China.Sci Total Environ 2008; 405(1-3):54-61ST
Heavy metals (HMs) may cause deleterious effects on human health due to the ingestion of food grain grown in contaminated soils. Concentrations of HMs (Hg, As, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, Zn and Cd) in wheat grains were investigated in different areas of a developed industry city in Southeast China (Kunshan city), and their potential risk to health of inhabitants was estimated. The results showed that concentrations of HMs in the top soil (0-15 cm) were in this order: Zn>Cr>Ni>Pb>Cu>As>Hg>Cd. The Zn, Cr, Ni Cd and Hg concentrations of several soil samples exceeded the permissible limits of China standard. In addition, concentrations of HMs in wheat grain decreased in the order of Zn>Cu>Pb>Cr>Ni>Cd>As>Hg. There were 1, 6 and 10 wheat samples whose Zn, Pb and Cd concentrations were above the permissible limits of China standard, respectively. In relation to non-carcinogenic risks, Hazard Quotient (HQ) of individual metal presented values inside the safe interval. However, health risk due to the added effects of eight HMs was significant for rural children and rural adults, but not for urban adults and urban children. HQ (individual risk) and HI (Hazard Index of aggregate risk) to different inhabitants due to HMs followed the same sequence of: country children>country adults>urban children>urban adults. Amongst the HMs, potential health hazards due to As, Cu, Cd and Pb were great, and that due to Cr was the minimum. It was suggested to pay more attention on the potential added threat of HMs to the health of country inhabitants (both children and adults) through consumption of wheat in Kunshan.