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Evaluating the health risks of potentially toxic elements through wheat consumption in multi-industrial metropolis of Faisalabad, Pakistan


Potentially toxic elements (PTEs) pollution is the fastest growing concern around the entire globe especially in developing countries. Rapid industrialization and urbanization are the dominant sources of anthropogenic soil-food chain contamination with PTEs. The intent of current study was to investigate the interactive levels of Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb, and Zn in soil and their accumulation in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) samples collected from 96 sites including industrial, urban, and peri-urban areas of a leading multi-industrialized center (Faisalabad) of Pakistan. According to results obtained from present study, non-carcinogenic (HQ) and life-time carcinogenic risks (CR) of the PTEs to the local inhabitants were estimated following the risk assessment modals proposed by the US-EPA. With respect to estimated HQ for chronic non-carcinogenic risk of Mn, Ni, and Pb, higher potential hazards were observed as compared to Cu, Fe, and Zn. Meanwhile, the carcinogenic risk of Ni marginally exceeded the limit described by US-EPA for adults. Overall, the health risks of PTEs with the consumption of wheat were lower than the limits described by US-EPA except for Ni. However, continuous consumption of this PTEs contaminated food may result the potential buildup of poisonousness and various disorders in humans. Therefore, long-term monitoring and gastrointestinal bio-accessibility studies are requisite for the safety of humans under such conditions.

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The authors greatly acknowledged the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program, 2014CB238903), Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (2011-2207), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41373110) for financial support for this study. The Chinese Academy of Science, China (CAS) and The World Academy of Science, Italy (TWAS) are also greatly acknowledged for providing the CAS-TWAS President’s fellowship (CAS-TWAS no. 2015-179). We also greatly appreciate the thoughtful comments and valuable suggestions from anonymous reviewers for the improvement of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Guijian Liu.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Abbas, Q., Yousaf, B., Liu, G. et al. Evaluating the health risks of potentially toxic elements through wheat consumption in multi-industrial metropolis of Faisalabad, Pakistan. Environ Sci Pollut Res 24, 26646–26657 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-017-0311-9

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  • Potential toxic elements
  • Wheat consumption
  • Dietary exposure
  • Health risk assessment
  • Multi-industrial metropolis