Concentration of heavy metals in vegetables and potential health risk assessment in China

  • Taiyang Zhong
  • Dawei Xue
  • Limin Zhao
  • Xiuying Zhang
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10653-017-9909-6

Cite this article as:
Zhong, T., Xue, D., Zhao, L. et al. Environ Geochem Health (2017). doi:10.1007/s10653-017-9909-6


Food safety is an important issue in the world. This study assessed the health risk for the Chinese public when consuming vegetables grown in China, based on 1335 data records from 220 published papers during 2007–2016. The results showed that the average of Pb, Cd, and Hg concentration in vegetables was 0.106, 0.041, and 0.008 mg/kg, which were lower than the maximum allowable concentrations, respectively. Leaf vegetables contained higher heavy metals than root vegetables and fruit vegetables. On a provincial scale, the highest Pb, Cd, and Hg concentrations in vegetables were determined by those in soil and atmosphere. The total health risk index showed that people in Guizhou, Yunnan, Guangxi, Hunan, Guangdong, Hubei provinces in southern China, and Liaoning Province in northeast China, faced a high risk of Pb, Cd, and Hg when consuming vegetables.


Heavy metal concentrations Vegetables Health risks China 

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
National Natural Science Foundation of China
  • 41271190

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Taiyang Zhong
    • 1
  • Dawei Xue
    • 2
  • Limin Zhao
    • 3
    • 4
  • Xiuying Zhang
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Geographic and Oceanographic SciencesNanjing UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.College of Biology and Environmental ScienceHangzhou Normal UniversityHangzhouChina
  3. 3.Jiangsu Provincial Key Laboratory of Geographic Information Science and Technology, International Institute for Earth System ScienceNanjing UniversityNanjingChina
  4. 4.Jiangsu Center for Collaborative Innovation in Geographical Information Resource Development and ApplicationNanjingChina

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