Assessment of Heavy Metal and Pesticide Levels in Soil and Plant Products from Agricultural Area of Belgrade, Serbia

  • Mirjana MarkovićEmail author
  • Svjetlana Cupać
  • Rada Đurović
  • Jelena Milinović
  • Petar Kljajić


This study was aimed to assess the levels of selected heavy metals and pesticides in soil and plant products from an agricultural area of Belgrade, Serbia and to indicate possible sources and risks of contamination. Soil, vegetable, and fruit samples from the most important agricultural city areas were collected from July to November of 2006. Metal contents were determined by atomic absorption spectrometry, whereas pesticide residues were analyzed by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry after extraction performed using solid-phase microextraction technique. Soil characterization based on the determination of selected physical and chemical properties revealed heterogeneous soils belonging to different soil groups. The concentrations of lead, cadmium, copper, and zinc in soil samples do not exceed the limits established by national and international regulations. Residues of the herbicide atrazine were detected in three soil samples, with levels lower than the relevant limit. The presence of other herbicides, namely prometryn, chloridazon, acetochlor, flurochloridone, and napropamide, was registered in some soil samples as well. Among the insecticides investigated in the soil, fenitrothion and chlorpyrifos were the only ones detected. In most of the investigated vegetable samples from the Obrenovac area, Pb and Cd contents are higher in comparison with the maximum levels, indicating the emission of coal combustion products from local thermal power plants as a possible source of contamination. Residue levels of some herbicides and insecticides (metribuzin, trifluralin, pendimethalin, bifenthrin, chlorpyrifos, and cypermethrin) determined in tomato, pepper, potato, and onion samples from Slanci, Ovča, and Obrenovac areas are even several times higher than the maximum residue levels. Inappropriate use of these plant protection products is considered to be the most probable reason of contamination. Because increased levels of heavy metals and pesticide residues found in plant products could pose a risk to consumers’ health, their continual monitoring before product distribution to city markets is indispensable.


Atrazine Chlorpyrifos Pesticide Residue Bifenthrin Metribuzin 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This study was financially supported by the Serbian Ministry of Science and Technological Development (project Nos: TR-6890B, TR-20060, and TR-20041) and the Secretariat for Environmental Protection of the City Assembly of Belgrade. The authors gratefully acknowledge Mrs. Verica Roglić-Korica, Mr. Marinko Ilić, and Mr. Aleksandar Tomaši for their assistance in this study. Special thanks to Dr. Slobodan Milonjić for his valuable suggestions.


  1. Abollino O, Aceto M, Malandrino M, Mentasti E, Sarzanini C, Petrella F (2002) Heavy metals in agricultural soils from Piedmont, Italy, distribution, speciation and chemometric data treatment. Chemosphere 49:545–557CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anonymous (2000) Annexes circular on target values and intervention values for soil remediation (Annex A). Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment, The Netherlands, pp 1–5Google Scholar
  3. Baba A, Kaya A, Birsoy YK (2003) The effect of Yatagan thermal power plant (Mugla-Turkey) on the quality of surface and ground waters. Water Air Soil Pollut 149:93–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beltran J, Lopez FJ, Cepria O, Hernandez F (1998) Solid-phase microextraction for quantitative analysis of organophosphorus pesticides in environmental water samples. J Chromatogr A 808:257–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. CEC (1990) Commission of the European Communities Council Directive of 27 November 1990 on the fixing of maximum levels for pesticide residues in and on certain products of plant origin, including fruit and vegetables. Offl J Eur Commun L 350, 71 (90/642/EEC); replaced by Regulation (EC) No 396/2005, of 23 February 2005, Off J Eur Union L 70:1–16Google Scholar
  6. Codex Alimentarius Commission (1998) Residues of pesticides in foods and animal feeds. Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme, Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues. 13th Session. The Hague, The Netherlands, pp 20–25Google Scholar
  7. Đurović R, Marković M (2005) Solid phase microextraction in the analysis of vinclozolin and procymidone in strawberries. Pestic Phytomed 20:163–169Google Scholar
  8. Đurović R, Milinović J, Marković M, Marković D (2007a) Headspace solid phase microextraction in pesticide residues analysis: 1. Optimisation of extraction conditions. Pestic Phytomed 22:65–70Google Scholar
  9. Đurović R, Milinović J, Marković M, Marković D (2007b) Headspace solid phase microextraction in pesticide residues analysis: 2 Apple samples. Pestic Phytomed 22:173–176Google Scholar
  10. Đurović R, Marković M, Marković D (2007c) Headspace solid phase microextraction in pesticide residues analysis: kinetics and quantification before reaching partition equilibrium. J Serbian Chem Soc 72:879–887. doi: 10.2298/JSC0709879D CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Đurović R, Milinović J, Cupać S, Marković M (2007d) Solid phase microextraction method for determination of 34 pesticides in soil samples. In: Book of abstracts of euroanalysis XIV, Antwerp, Belgium, European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences (EcCheMS), University of Antwerp, Royal Flemish Chemical Society (KVCV), p 75Google Scholar
  12. EC C (1986) Commission of the European Communities Council Directive 12 on the Protection of the Environment, and in particular soil, when sewage sludge is used in agriculture. Off J Eur Commun L 18:6–12 (86/278/EEC)Google Scholar
  13. EC C (2002) Commission of the European Communities Council Directive of 11 July 2002 establishing Community methods of sampling for the official control of pesticide residues in and on products of plant and animal origin. Off J Eur Commun L 37:30–43 (2002/63/EC)Google Scholar
  14. FAO (2003) Food balance sheets: Serbia and Montenegro. Available from Accessed 12 May 2009
  15. FAO/WHO (2008) Maximum residue limits (MRLs) for pesticides. FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Official Standards. CAC/MRL 1, Vol. 2B, Revision: 2001Google Scholar
  16. FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius (1995) General standard for contaminants and toxins in foods. Codex Stan. 193, Rev. 2-2006, pp 1–46Google Scholar
  17. Fernandez-Alvarez M, Llompart M, Lamas JP, Lores M, Garcia-Jares C, Cala R, Dagnac T (2008) Simultaneous determination of traces of pyrethroids, organochlorines and other main plant protection agents in agricultural soils by headspace solid-phase microextraction-gas chromatography. J Chromatogr A 1188:154–163. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2008.02.080 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gaw SK, Wilkins AL, Kim ND, Palmer GT, Robinson P (2006) Trace elements and ∑DDT concentrations in horticultural soils from the Tasman, Waikato and Auckland regions of New Zealand. Sci Total Environ 355:31–47. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2005.02.020 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hildebrandt A, Lacorte S, Barceló D (2009) Occurrence and fate of organochlorinated pesticides and PAH in agricultural soils from the Ebro river basin. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 57:247–255. doi:  10.1007/s00244-008-9260-0 Google Scholar
  20. Holmgren GGS, Meyer MW, Cheney RL, Daniels RB (1993) Cadmium, lead, zinc, copper and nickel in agricultural soils of the United States of America. J Environ Qual 22:335–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Horwitz W (ed) (2002) Official methods of analysis of AOAC International, 17th edn. AOAC International, Gathersburg, MDGoogle Scholar
  22. ISO (1995) ISO 11466 Soil quality–extraction of trace elements soluble in aqua regiaGoogle Scholar
  23. ISO (1998) ISO 11047 (1998) Soil quality—determination of cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, lead, manganese, nickel and zinc in aqua regia extracts of soil—Flame and electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometric methodsGoogle Scholar
  24. ISO (2002) ISO 10381–2 (2002) Soil quality–Sampling–Part 2: guidance on sampling techniquesGoogle Scholar
  25. ISO (2006) ISO 11464 (2006) Soil quality–pretreatment of samples for physico-chemical analysisGoogle Scholar
  26. IUSS Working Group WRB (2006) World reference base for soil resources 2006, 2nd ed. World Soil Resources Reports No.103. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  27. Kastori R (ed) (1993) Heavy metals and pesticides in soil. Heavy metals and pesticides in the soils of the Vojvodina Province, Faculty of agriculture. Institute of field and vegetable crops, Novi Sad, Serbia (in Serbian with abstract in English)Google Scholar
  28. Kastori R, Petrović N, Arsenijević-Maksimović I (1997) Heavy metals and plants, In: Kastori R (ed) Heavy metals in the environment. Institute of Field and Vegetable Crops, Novi Sad, Serbia, pp 197–257 (in Serbian with abstract in English)Google Scholar
  29. Micó C, Recatalá L, Peris M, Sánchez J (2006) Assessing heavy metal sources in agricultural soils of an European Mediterranean area by multivariate analysis. Chemosphere 65:863–872. doi: 101016/chemosphere.2006.03.016 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mitić N (2004) Pesticides in agriculture and forestry in Serbia and Montenegro, 15th edn. Plant Protection Society of Serbia, Belgrade (in Serbian)Google Scholar
  31. Nasreddine L, Parent-Massin D (2002) Food contamination by metals and pesticides in the European Union. Should we worry? Toxicol Lett 127:29–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Oldal B, Maloschik E, Uzinger N, Anton A, Székács A (2006) Pesticide residues in Hungarian soils. Geoderma 135:163–178. doi: 10.1016/j.geoderma.2005.11.011 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. The Official Gazette of the FRY (1992) Guideline on the levels of pesticides, metals, metalloids and other toxic substances, as well as chemiotherapeutics, anabolics and other substances in food. 5:67–85 (in Serbian)Google Scholar
  34. The Official Gazette of the RS (1994) Guideline on permitted concentrations of dangerous and harmful substances in soil and irrigation water and methods for their investigation. 23:553–554Google Scholar
  35. Tomlin CDS (ed) (2006) The pesticide manual (a world compendium), 14th edn. British Crop Protection Council, Hampshire, UKGoogle Scholar
  36. Ubavić M, Bogdanović D, Hadžić V (1993) Basic chemical properties of soil of the Vojvodina province and possibilities of their contamination with heavy metals. Contemp Agric 1:47–51 (in Serbian)Google Scholar
  37. Van-Gaans PFM, Vriend SP, Bleyerveld S, Schrage G, Vos A (1995) Assessing environmental soil quality in rural areas. A baseline study in the Province of Zeeland, The Netherlands, and reflections on soil monitoring network designs. Environ Monit Assess 34:73–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. WHO (1993) Evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants. Technical Report Series No. 837. World Heath Organization, GenevaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mirjana Marković
    • 1
    Email author
  • Svjetlana Cupać
    • 2
  • Rada Đurović
    • 3
  • Jelena Milinović
    • 3
  • Petar Kljajić
    • 3
  1. 1.Chemical Dynamics LaboratoryThe Vinča Institute of Nuclear SciencesBelgradeSerbia
  2. 2.Faculty of AgricultureUniversity of BelgradeBelgradeSerbia
  3. 3.Pesticide and Environment Research InstituteBelgradeSerbia

Personalised recommendations