Heavy metals in summer squash fruits grown in soil amended with municipal sewage sludge.J Environ Sci Health B 2010; 45(2):167-73JE
The increasing awareness of the value of vegetables and fruits in the human diet requires monitoring of heavy metals in food crops. The effects of amending soil with compost made from municipal sewage sludge (MSS) and MSS mixed with yard waste (MSS-YW) on Cd, Cr, Mo, Cu, Zn, Pb, and Ni concentrations in soil and the potential bioaccumulation of heavy metals in squash fruits at harvest were investigated. A field study was conducted in a silty-loam soil at Kentucky State University Research Farm. Eighteen plots of 22 x 3.7 m each were separated using metal borders and the soil in six plots was mixed with MSS at 15 t acre(-1), six plots were mixed with MSS-YW at 15 t acre(-1) (on dry weight basis), and six unamended plots (no-mulch) were used for comparison purposes. Plots were planted with summer squash and heavy metals were analyzed in soil and mature fruits at harvest. Analysis of heavy metals in squash fruits was conducted using inductively coupled plasma spectrometry. Zinc and Cu concentrations in soil mixed with MSS were extremely high compared to other metals. In squash fruits, concentrations of Zn were generally greater than Cu. Total squash marketable yield was greatest in MSS-YW and MSS treatments compared to no-mulch conventional soil. Concentrations of Cd and Pb in soil amended with MSS averaged 0.1 and 1.4 mg kg(-1), respectively. These levels were much lower than the limits in the U.S. guidelines for using MSS in land farming. Data revealed that maximum concentrations of Cd and Pb in squash fruits were 0.03 and 0.01 microg g(-1) dry fruit, respectively. Nickel concentration in squash fruits fluctuated among harvest dates reaching a maximum of 2.5 microg g(-1) dry fruit. However, these concentrations were far below their permissible limits in edible fruits.