Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 184, Issue 6, pp 3503–3513 | Cite as

Health risk assessment of heavy metals for edible parts of vegetables grown in sewage-irrigated soils in suburbs of Baoding City, China

  • Zhan-Jun Xue
  • Shu-Qing Liu
  • Yan-Ling Liu
  • Yong-Lu Yan


With the long-term application of wastewater to vegetable production fields, there is concern about potential health risks of heavy metals contaminating the edible parts of vegetables grown in contaminated soils in the suburban areas of Baoding City, China. The average concentration of elemental Zn in sewage-irrigated soil was the highest (153.77 mg kg−1), followed by Pb (38.35 mg kg−1), Cu (35.06 mg kg−1), Ni (29.81 mg kg−1), and Cd (0.22 mg kg−1) which were significantly higher (P < 0.05) than those in the reference soil. The results showed that long-term sewage irrigation had led to a growing accumulation of heavy metals in the soils, especially for Cd, Zn, and Pb. Furthermore, the concentrations of elemental Cd, Zn, and Ni in vegetables (e.g., Beassica pekinensis L., Allium fistulosum L., Spinacia oleracea L.) collected from the wastewater-irrigated soils exceeded the maximum permissible limits, and this also increased the daily intake of metals by food. However, compared with the health risk index of <1 for heavy metals, the ingestion of vegetables from the soils irrigated with sewage effluent posed a low health risk. Nevertheless, heavy metal concentrations should be periodically monitored in vegetables grown in these soils together with the implementation effective remediation technologies to minimize possible impacts on human health.


Assessment Health risk Heavy metals Sewage irrigation Vegetables 



This research was financially supported by National Key Technology R&D Program of China (no. 2008BAJ08B13-07). We heartily thank the Monitoring Center for Environment of Hebei province for the equipments used to carry out this study, as well as the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. We are also thankful to Prof H.J. Di of the Department of Soil and Physical Sciences, the Lincoln University of New Zealand, for the help in English writing.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhan-Jun Xue
    • 1
  • Shu-Qing Liu
    • 1
  • Yan-Ling Liu
    • 1
  • Yong-Lu Yan
    • 2
  1. 1.College of Resource and Environment ScienceAgricultural University of HebeiBaodingChina
  2. 2.Monitoring Center for Environment of Hebei ProvinceShijiazhuangChina

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