Paddy and Water Environment

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 247–257 | Cite as

Heavy metal contamination of agricultural soil and countermeasures in Japan

  • Tomohito AraoEmail author
  • Satoru Ishikawa
  • Masaharu Murakami
  • Kaoru Abe
  • Yuji Maejima
  • Tomoyuki Makino


Many heavy metals exist in minute amounts in natural agricultural soil. However, when their amounts exceed a certain level due to pollutants brought from outside, soil contamination occurs and agricultural products become contaminated. There have been many cases in Japan of heavy metal contamination originating from old mines and smelters, and soil contamination of agricultural land has become a social issue. In particular, cadmium (Cd) is one of the most harmful heavy metals. If agricultural products absorb an excessive amount of Cd, they may adversely affect people’s health, and therefore allowable concentrations are regulated by law. If agricultural land has become contaminated with Cd, measures for minimizing the absorption of Cd by agricultural crops are necessary; these include: (1) soil dressing, (2) water management (paddy field), (3) chemical cleaning of soil, (4) phytoextraction, and (5) use of different varieties and rootstock. Other heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, copper, zinc, and mercury also sometimes cause contamination of agricultural soil.


Heavy metal pollution Cadmium Chemical washing method Phytoremediation 



We are grateful to Dr. Shinichi Ono for his useful advice and encouragement. This work was supported by a grant from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries of Japan (Research project for ensuring food safety from farm to table AC-1122) and Strategic International Cooperative Program, Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tomohito Arao
    • 1
    Email author
  • Satoru Ishikawa
    • 1
  • Masaharu Murakami
    • 1
  • Kaoru Abe
    • 1
  • Yuji Maejima
    • 1
  • Tomoyuki Makino
    • 1
  1. 1.National Institute for Agro-Environmental SciencesTsukubaJapan

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