, Volume 24, Issue 10, pp 2115–2124 | Cite as

Health risk assessment of heavy metals via dietary intake of wheat grown in Tianjin sewage irrigation area

  • Xiangfeng Zeng
  • Zuwei Wang
  • Jun Wang
  • Jinting Guo
  • Xijuan Chen
  • Jie Zhuang


The possible health risks from heavy metal (Zn, Cu, Cr, Ni, Pb, and Cd) contamination to the local population through the food chain were evaluated in Tianjin, China, a city with a long history of sewage irrigation. Results showed that the continuous application of wastewater has led to an accumulation of heavy metals in the soil, and 54.5 and 18.25 % soil samples accumulated Cd and Zn in concentrations exceeding the permissible limits in China. Concentrations of heavy metals in wheat grain decreased in the order of Zn > Cu > Cr > Ni > Pb > Cd, and transfer factors for the six heavy metals showed the trend as Zn > Cd > Cu > Pb > Cr > Ni. The risk assessment for the six heavy metals through wheat consumption suggests that concentrations of Cr and Cd in some wheat samples exceed their reference oral dose for adults and children. In general, no target hazard quotient value of any individual element was greater than one, which means they are within the safe interval. However, 36.4 and 63.6 % hazard index values for adults and children were greater than one, respectively. The health risk due to the added effects of heavy metals was significant for children and adults, and more attention should be paid tothe potential added threat fromheavy metals to the health of children via dietary intake of wheat in Tianjin.


Heavy metals Wheat Human health risk Wastewater irrigation Tianjin 



This research was funded by the strategic priority research program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. XDB14020204) and the National Nature Science Foundation of China (No. 40973078). We thank reviewers for their valuable and constructive comments.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiangfeng Zeng
    • 1
    • 4
  • Zuwei Wang
    • 2
  • Jun Wang
    • 3
  • Jinting Guo
    • 1
    • 4
  • Xijuan Chen
    • 1
  • Jie Zhuang
    • 5
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Pollution Ecology and Environmental Engineering, Institute of Applied EcologyChinese Academy of SciencesShenyangChina
  2. 2.Tianjin Key Laboratory of Water Resource and Water EnvironmentTianjin Normal UniversityTianjinChina
  3. 3.Center for Environmental BiotechnologyThe University of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  4. 4.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  5. 5.Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil ScienceThe University of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA

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