, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 37-42

Lead and potential health risks from subsistence food crops in urban Kenya

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Lead, zinc and cadmium were analysed in a range of subsistence crops cultivated in and around Nairobi city centre. Lead was found to be the only contaminant of concern, being widely dispersed with elevated levels found in crops and soils from both suburban and city centre areas. Extremely high concentrations were recorded in the edible portions of a variety of crops, and high soil Pb levels were recorded within 30m of busy roads. Based on these data, it is estimated that subsistence on a diet of crops cultivated in and around Nairobi could increase Pb intake by 10–100 times the FAO/WHO maximum tolerable levels, potentially contributing substantially to existing health problems.