Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 31, pp 32505–32516 | Cite as

Arsenic accumulation in edible vegetables and health risk reduction by groundwater treatment using an adsorption process

  • Sara Spognardi
  • Ilenia Bravo
  • Claudio Beni
  • Patrizia Menegoni
  • Loris Pietrelli
  • Patrizia PapettiEmail author
Research Article


The heavy metals transfer from the soil, where they accumulate, to the edible parts of the plants, and then, their entrance in the food chain can represent a source of concern for human health. Among heavy metals, arsenic is one of the most widespread in the soil of Lazio (central region of Italy), where the phytoavailable geogenic arsenic enters the food chain, with a dangerous exposition of the local population. In the first part of this work, plants of radish (Raphanus sativus L.) and lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) were grown in protected culture in the experimental farm of CREA-AA, where they were daily treated with different concentrations of sodium arsenate dibasic heptahydrate in order to investigate differences in their arsenic accumulation capacities. In order to confirm the results achieved, in the second part of this study, the arsenic concentration was determined in commercial products obtained from contaminated areas of Lazio, and the potential exposition risk for human health through consumption of these widely consumed vegetables was estimated. The highest arsenic concentrations were found in the samples of lettuce. To evaluate the potential health risk from consumption of L. sativa and R. sativus, the estimated daily intake (EDI) for adults, adolescents, and elderly was calculated, finding that HRI (health risk index) index value for arsenic was low (< 1) in the case of chronic consumptions for all samples of radishes, and for the lettuces grown in the area of Viterbo. On the contrary, the lettuces obtained from Tuscania and Tarquinia presented very high concentrations of arsenic and a worrying HRI value. In order to reduce the risk of As toxicity in the people through consumption of the vegetables, the irrigation water should contain less than 0.1 mg As L−1. For this reason, the authors tested the application of red mud (RM) to remove As from groundwater before using it for the irrigation of radish and lettuce in greenhouse production.


Arsenic Irrigation water Contamination Vegetables Red mud 



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Business StudiesUniversity of Roma TreRomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Economics and Law, Territorial and Products Analysis Laboratory (LAMeT)University of Cassino and Southern LazioCassinoItaly
  3. 3.CREA IT – Consiglio per la Ricerca in agricoltura e l’analisi dell’Economia Agraria – Centro di Ricerca Ingegneria e Trasformazioni agroalimentariRomeItaly
  4. 4.ENEA – CR Casaccia Via AnguillareseRomeItaly

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