Irrigation with wastewater is a promising option to improve crop yields and to reduce pressure on freshwater sources. However, heavy metal concentrations in wastewater may cause health concerns. A greenhouse pot experiment was conducted in order to determine cadmium (Cd) and zinc (Zn) concentrations in sandy soil and plant tissues of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum L.) and alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.). A 2 × 2 × 4 × 2 factorial treatment arrangement was utilized. Two water sources, fresh (FW) or treated wastewater (TWW), at two salinity levels (1 and 3 dS m−1) containing different levels of Cd and Zn were used. Samples were collected after a 90-day growth period. It was observed that the growth of both plants was depressed at the highest metal level (L3). Metal accumulation in plant parts increased with the increase of metal concentration and salinity in irrigation water. At low salinity, water source was the main factor which controlled metal accumulation, whereas, at high salinity, chloride appeared to be the principal factor controlling metal uptake regardless of water source. Metal translocation from roots to shoots increased in TWW-irrigated plants, even in the controls. Tomatoes accumulated Cd up to and above critical levels safe for human consumption, even though Cd concentration in irrigation water did not exceed the current recommended values. Therefore, food production in sandy soils may well pose a health hazard when irrigated with TWW containing heavy metals. Complexation with dissolved organic compounds (DOC) in TWW may be to be the principal factor responsible for increased metal uptake and transfer at low salinity, thereby increasing the risk of heavy metal contamination of food and forage crops.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Aiello R, Cirelli GL, Consoli S (2007) Effects of reclaimed wastewater irrigation on soil and tomato fruits: a case study in Sicily (Italy). Agr Water Manage 93:65–72
Ammary BY (2007) Wastewater reuse in Jordan: present status and future plans. Desalination 211:164–176
Ashworth DJ, Alloway BJ (2008) Influence of dissolved organic matter on the solubility of heavy metals in sewage-sludge-amended soils. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 39:538–550
Bakopoulou S, Emmanouil C, Kungolos A (2011) Assessment of wastewater effluent quality in Thessaly region, Greece, for determining its irrigation reuse potential. Ecotox Environ Safe 74:188–194
Begerow J, Crößmann G, Ewers U, Finck M (2008) Standards and regulations regarding metals and their compounds in environmental materials, drinking water, food, feeding-stuff, consumer products, and other materials: elements and their compounds in the environment. Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH, 1498–1524.
Boekhold A, Equine A, Temminghoff JM, Van der Zee SEATM (1993) Influence of electrolyte composition and pH on cadmium sorption by an acid sandy soil. J Soil Sci 44:85–96
Bolan NS, Adriano DC, Mani S, Khan A (2003) Adsorption, complexation, and phytoavailability of copper as influenced by organic manure. Environ Toxicol Chem 22:450–456
Chander K, Hartmann G, Joergensen RG, Khan KS, Lamersdorf N (2008) Comparison of three methods for measuring heavy metals in soils contaminated by different sources. Arch Agron Soil Sci 54:413–422
Chaney RL (1993) Zinc phytotoxicity. In: Robson AD (ed) Zinc in soils and plants. Springer, Netherlands, pp 135–150
Chaney RL (2010) Cadmium and zinc. In: Hooda PS (ed) Trace elements in soils. Wiley, Chippenham, pp 409–439
Chaney RL, Oliver DP (1996) Sources, potential adverse effects and remediation of agricultural soil contaminants. In: Naidu R, Kookana RS, Oliver DP, Rogers S, McLaughlin MJ (eds) Contaminants and the soil environment in the Australasia-Pacific region. Springer, Netherlands, pp 323–359
Cherif J, Mediouni C, Ammar WB, Jemal F (2011) Interactions of zinc and cadmium toxicity in their effects on growth and in antioxidative systems in tomato plants (Solanum lycopersicum). J Environ Sci 23(5):837–844
Das P, Samantaray S, Rout GR (1997) Studies on cadmium toxicity in plants: a review. Environ Pollut 98:29–36
Datta SP, Biswas DR, Saharan N, Ghosh SK, Rattan RK (2000) Effect of long-term application of sewage effluents on organic carbon, bioavailable phosphorus, potassium and heavy metals status of soils and content of heavy metals in crops grown thereon. J Indian Soc Soil Sci 48:836–839
Degryse F, Smolders E, Parker DR (2006) Partitioning of metals (Cd, Co, Cu, Ni, Pb, Zn) in soils: concepts, methodologies, prediction and applications—a review. Europ J Soil Sci 60:590–612
EPA (2004) Guidelines for water reuse. EPA/625/R-04/108, Washington, 450 pp.
Ewers U (1991) Standards, guidelines and legislative regulations concerning metals and their compounds. In: Merian E (ed) Metals and their compounds in the environment: occurrence, analysis and biological relevance. Weinheim, VCH, pp 458–468
FAO (1992) Wastewater treatment and use in agriculture. Irrigation and Drainage Paper, # 47, M.B. Pescod, Rome, 125 pp
FAO/WHO (2001) Codex Alimentarius Commission Food Additives and Contaminants. Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Program, ALINORM 01/12A:1–289
Feigin A, Ravina I, Shalhevet J (1991) Irrigation with treated sewage effluent: management for environmental protection. Springer, Berlin, 224pp
Gharaibeh MA, Eltaif NI, Al-Abdullah B (2007) Impact of field application of treated wastewater on hydraulic properties of vertisols. Water Air Soil Poll 184:347–353
Gove L, Cooke CM, Nicholson FA, Beck AJ (2001) Movement of water and heavy metals (Zn, Cu, Pb and Ni) through sand and sandy loam amended with biosolids under steady-state hydrological conditions. Bioresource Technol 78:171–179
Hesterberg D (1998) Biogeochemical cycles and processes leading to changes in mobility of chemicals in soils. Agric Ecosyst Environ 67:121–133
JISM (2006) Reclaimed domestic wastewater standard. No. 893/2006, Technical Regulation, Jordanian Institution for Standards and Metrology, Jordan.
Joint FAO/WHO Committee on Food Additives (1999) Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee Report on Food Additives. WHO Technical Report Series, 922 (Rome, Italy)
Kabata-Pendias A, Mukherjee AB (2007) Trace elements of group 12 (previously group IIb): trace elements from soil to human. Springer Berlin , Heidelberg, pp 283–319
Khoshgoftar AH, Shariatmadari H, Karimian N, Kalbasi M, van der Zee SEATM, Parker DR (2004) Salinity and zinc application effects on phytoavailability of cadmium and zinc. Soil Sci Soc Amer J 6:1885–1889
Kouraa A, Fethi F, Fahde A, Lahlou A, Ouazzani N (2002) Reuse of urban wastewater treated by a combined stabilisation pond system in Benslimane (Morocco). Urban Water 4:373–378
Klute A (1986) Methods of soil analysis, part 1: Physical and mineralogical methods (2nd edition). Agronomy Monograph 9, Madison: WI, ASA and SSSA, pp 1188
Lado M, Ben-Hur M (2009) Treated domestic sewage irrigation effects on soil hydraulic properties in arid and semiarid zones: a review. Soil Till Res 106:152–163
Maas EV (1987) Salt tolerance of plants. In: Christie BR (ed) CRC handbook of plant science in agriculture. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp 57–75
Maas EV, Grattan SR (1999) Crop yields as affected by salinity. In: Skaggs RW, Schilfgaarde, JV (eds) Agricultural drainage. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, pp 55–108
Marschner H (1995) Mineral nutrition of higher plants, 2nd edn. Academic, London, 889pp
McLaughlin MJ, Tiller KG, Beech T, Smart MK (1994) Increased soil salinity causes elevated cadmium concentrations in field-grown potato tubers. J Environ Qual 23:1013–1018
MOH - Ministry of Health of China (1991) Sanitary standard of zinc level for vegetables, GB13106-91.
Mohammad A, Seema MA (2009) The influence of single and multiple soil contamination of cadmium with lead and zinc on growth, chlorophyll contents, uptake and translocation of cadmium in tomato plants. Arch Agron Soil Sci 55(4):407–413
Nayek S, Gupta S, Saha RN (2010) Metal accumulation and its effects in relation to biochemical response of vegetables irrigated with metal contaminated water and wastewater. J Hazard Mater 178:588–595
O’Connor GA, O’Connor C, Cline GR (1984) Sorption of cadmium by calcareous soils: influence of solution composition. Soil Sci Soc Am J 48:1244–1247
Oron G, Armon R, Mandelbaum R, Manor Y, Campos C, Gillerman L, Saigot M, Gerba C, Klein I, Enriquez C (2001) Secondary wastewater disposal for crop irrigation with minimal risks. Water Sci Technol 43:139–146
Paalman MAA, van der Weijden CH, Loch JPG (1994) Sorption of cadmium on suspended matter under estuarine conditions: competition and complexation with major seawater ions. Water Air Soil Pollut 73:49–60
Page AL, Miller RH, Keeney DR (1982) Methods of soil analysis, Part 2: Chemical and microbiological properties (2nd edn). Agronomy Monograph 9, Madison: WI, ASA and SSSA, pp 1184
Pedrero F, Alarcón JJ (2009) Effects of treated wastewater irrigation on lemon trees. Desalination 246:631–639
Sarwar N, Saifullah Malhi SS, Zia MH, Naeem A, Bibi S, Farid G (2010) Role of mineral nutrition in minimizing cadmium accumulation by plants. J Sci Food Agr 90:925–937
Smolders E, McLaughlin MJ (1996) Chloride increases cadmium uptake in Swiss chard in a resin-buffered nutrient solution. Soil Sci Soc Am J 60:1443–1447
Smolders E, Lambergts RM, McLaughlin MJ, Tiller KG (1998) Effect of soil solution chloride on cadmium availability to Swiss chard. J Environ Qual 27:426–31
Strawn D, Bohn H, O’Connor G (2015) Soil chemistry, 4th edn. Wiley-Blackwell, UK, 392 pp
Usman ARA, Kuzyakov Y, Stahr K (2005) Effect of immobilizing substances and salinity on heavy metals availability to wheat grown on sewage sludge contaminated soil. Soil Sediment Contam 14:329–344
Weggler K, McLaughlin MJ, Graham RD (2004) Effect of chloride in soil solution on the plant availability of biosolid-borne cadmium. J Environ Qual 33:496–504
WHO (1993) Evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants. 41rd Report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives, Technical Report Series. WHO: Geneva
The authors would like to acknowledge the partial fund from the deanship of research at the Jordan University of Science and Technology and the German Research Foundation (DFG) for financial support of the research visit. The authors acknowledge the support from the Department of Soil Science/Soil Ecology, Institute of Geography, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany for using lab facilities.
Compliance with ethical standards
The manuscript has not been submitted to more than one journal for simultaneous consideration. The manuscript has not been published previously (partly or in full). This is a single study which is not split up into several parts and has not been submitted to various journals. No data have been fabricated or manipulated (including images) to support our conclusions. No data, text, or theories by others are presented; this is solely single research done by the authors. Consent to submit has been received explicitly from all co-authors before the work was submitted. Authors whose names appear on the submission have contributed sufficiently to the scientific work and therefore share collective responsibility and accountability for the results. No changes of authorship or in the order of authors will be changed after acceptance of a manuscript. If requested, authors are prepared to send relevant documentation or data in order to verify the validity of the results. The authors declare that there is no misconduct that has been established.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests
Responsible editor: Elena Maestri
About this article
Cite this article
Gharaibeh, M.A., Marschner, B. & Heinze, S. Metal uptake of tomato and alfalfa plants as affected by water source, salinity, and Cd and Zn levels under greenhouse conditions. Environ Sci Pollut Res 22, 18894–18905 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-015-5077-3