A greenhouse and field-based study to determine the accumulation of arsenic in common homegrown vegetables grown in mining-affected soils

Monica D. Ramirez-Andreotta, Mark L. Brusseau, Janick F. Artiola, Raina M. Maier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


The uptake of arsenic by plants from contaminated soils presents a health hazard that may affect home gardeners neighboring contaminated environments. A controlled greenhouse study was conducted in parallel with a co-created citizen science program (home garden experiment) to characterize the uptake of arsenic by common homegrown vegetables near the Iron King Mine and Humboldt Smelter Superfund site in southern Arizona. The greenhouse and home garden arsenic soil concentrations varied considerably, ranging from 2.35 to 533mgkg-1. In the greenhouse experiment four vegetables were grown in three different soil treatments and in the home garden experiment a total of 63 home garden produce samples were obtained from 19 properties neighboring the site. All vegetables accumulated arsenic in both the greenhouse and home garden experiments, ranging from 0.01 to 23.0mgkg-1 dry weight. Bioconcentration factors were determined and show that arsenic uptake decreased in the order: Asteraceae>Brassicaceae>Amaranthaceae>Cucurbitaceae>Liliaceae>Solanaceae>Fabaceae. Certain members of the Asteraceae and Brassicaceae plant families have been previously identified as hyperaccumulator plants, and it can be inferred that members of these families have genetic and physiological capacity to accumulate, translocate, and resist high amounts of metals. Additionally, a significant linear correlation was observed between the amount of arsenic that accumulated in the edible portion of the plant and the arsenic soil concentration for the Asteraceae, Brassicaceae, Amaranthaceae, and Fabaceae families. The results suggest that home gardeners neighboring mining operations or mine tailings with elevated arsenic levels should be made aware that arsenic can accumulate considerably in certain vegetables, and in particular, it is recommended that gardeners limit consumption of vegetables from the Asteraceae and Brassicaceae plant families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-306
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Jan 5 2013


  • Arsenic
  • Home-gardens
  • Mine tailings
  • Mining waste
  • Plant uptake
  • Vegetable

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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