Fractionation analysis and health risk assessment of heavy metals in six traditional Chinese medicines

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Traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs) are widely used to treat various diseases in China and some countries, and TCM products are becoming increasingly available and popular worldwide. But TCMs are facing the challenge of heavy metal pollution. In this work, we examined the total contents and fractionations of Pb, Cd, Hg, and Cu in six TCMs (Angelicae Sinensis Radix (ASR), Chuanxiong Rhizoma (CR), Polygonati Rhizoma (PR), Astragali Radix (AR), Carthami Flos (CF), and Paeoniae Radix Rubra (PRR)) and evaluated the health risk of four heavy metals in these TCMs. The results showed that Cd, Pb, and Cu contents were considerably high and the amount of Cd in six TCMs, Pb in CR, ASR, AR, and CF, and Hg in ASR, PR, and PRR exceeded the limit values. The predominant fractions of Pb, Cd, and Cu were exchangeable and carbonate fractions in six TCMs; Hg mainly existed in organic and residual fractions. The average daily intake dose (ADD) and target hazard quotient (THQ) of Pb based on total content and total THQ of four heavy metals based on bioaccessible fractions in AR and PRR exceeded the safety guideline. These results indicated that the potential health risk could occur by taking these TCMs.

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Correspondence to Guangde Yang.

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Nan, G., Meng, X., Song, N. et al. Fractionation analysis and health risk assessment of heavy metals in six traditional Chinese medicines. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2020) doi:10.1007/s11356-019-07558-w

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  • Heavy metals
  • Fractionation analysis
  • Health risk
  • Traditional Chinese medicines