Quantification of inorganic arsenic exposure and cancer risk via consumption of vegetables in southern selected districts of Pakistan

Zahir Ur Rehman, Sardar Khan, Kun Qin, Mark L. Brusseau, Mohammad Tahir Shah, Islamud Din

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Human exposures to arsenic (As) through different pathways (dietary and non-dietary) are considered to be one of the primary worldwide environmental health risks to humans. This study was conducted to investigate the presence of As in soil and vegetable samples collected from agricultural lands located in selected southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) Province, Pakistan. We examined the concentrations of total arsenic (TAs), organic species of As such as monomethylarsonic acid (MMA) and dimethylarsonic acid (DMA), and inorganic species including arsenite (AsIII) and arsenate (AsV) in both soil and vegetables. The data were used to determine several parameters to evaluate human health risk, including bioconcentration factor (BCF) from soil to plant, average daily intake (ADI), health risk index (HRI), incremental lifetime cancer risk (ILTCR), and hazard quotient (HQ). The total As concentration in soil samples of the five districts ranged from 3.0-3.9 mg kg-1, exhibiting minimal variations from site to site. The mean As concentration in edible portions of vegetable samples ranged from 0.03-1.38 mg kg-1. It was observed that As concentrations in 75% of the vegetable samples exceeded the safe maximum allowable limit (0.1 mg kg-1) set by WHO/FAO. The highest value of ADI for As was measured for Momordica charantia, while the lowest was for Allium chinense. The results of this study revealed minimal health risk (HI<1) associated with consumption of vegetables for the local inhabitants. The ILTCR values for inorganic As indicated a minimal potential cancer risk through ingestion of vegetables. In addition, the HQ values for total As were <1, indicating minimal non-cancer risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-329
Number of pages9
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Apr 15 2016


  • Arsenic
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Cancer risk
  • Daily ingestion
  • Vegetable

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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