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Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 22, Issue 18, pp 13772–13799 | Cite as

The uptake and bioaccumulation of heavy metals by food plants, their effects on plants nutrients, and associated health risk: a review

  • Anwarzeb Khan
  • Sardar KhanEmail author
  • Muhammad Amjad Khan
  • Zahir Qamar
  • Muhammad Waqas
Review Article

Abstract

Heavy metal contamination is a globally recognized environmental issue, threatening human life very seriously. Increasing population and high demand for food resulted in release of various contaminants into environment that finally contaminate the food chain. Edible plants are the major source of diet, and their contamination with toxic metals may result in catastrophic health hazards. Heavy metals affect the human health directly and/or indirectly; one of the indirect effects is the change in plant nutritional values. Previously, a number of review papers have been published on different aspects of heavy metal contamination. However, no related information is available about the effects of heavy metals on the nutritional status of food plants. This review paper is focused upon heavy metal sources, accumulation, transfer, health risk, and effects on protein, amino acids, carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins in plants. The literature about heavy metals in food plants shows that both leafy and nonleafy vegetables are good accumulators of heavy metals. In nonleafy vegetables, the bioaccumulation pattern was leaf > root ≈ stem > tuber. Heavy metals have strong influence on nutritional values; therefore, plants grown on metal-contaminated soil were nutrient deficient and consumption of such vegetables may lead to nutritional deficiency in the population particularly living in developing countries which are already facing the malnutrition problems.

Keywords

Heavy metals Soil pH Nutrients Bioaccumulation Toxicity Plant growth 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors are thankful to the Higher Education Commission, Islamabad, Pakistan, for providing the financial support for this research.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anwarzeb Khan
    • 1
  • Sardar Khan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Muhammad Amjad Khan
    • 1
  • Zahir Qamar
    • 1
  • Muhammad Waqas
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of PeshawarPeshawarPakistan

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