Transfer of Heavy Metals from Soils to Vegetables and Associated Human Health Risks at Selected Sites in Pakistan

Zahir Ur REHMAN, Sardar KHAN, Mohammad Tahir SHAH, Mark L. BRUSSEAU, Said Akbar KHAN, Jon MAINHAGU

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Contamination of the food chain with heavy metals is considered as one of the major environmental pathways of human exposure to metals leading to potential health risks. This study aimed to investigate the concentrations of heavy metals such as copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), chromium (Cr), nickel (Ni), and manganese (Mn) in agricultural soils and food crops (fruit, leaf, and root vegetables), and their associated health risks to the local population in selected southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan. The concentrations of the selected metals in soil varied over a wide range, in the following decreasing order: Mn > Zn > Cr > Ni > Cu. The bioaccumulation of metals in vegetables was within the permissible risk limits, except for Cr which showed higher contamination in all the tested food crops. The trend of metal transfer factors for different vegetables was in the order of Cu > Ni > Cr > Mn > Zn, while the calculated daily intake of metals (DIM) in adults and children through consumption of food crops was in the decreasing order of Mn > Zn > Ni > Cr > Cu. The health risk index (HRI) values for the heavy metals for both adults and children were less than 1. Therefore, no significant health risk is anticipated for the local consumers through ingestion of these food crops.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)666-679
Number of pages14
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • contamination
  • daily intake
  • food crops
  • metal accumulation
  • metal pollution
  • metal transfer factor
  • risk index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science


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