Assessment of human health risks and pollution index for heavy metals in farmlands irrigated by effluents of stabilization ponds

  • Azam Karimi
  • Ali Naghizadeh
  • Hamed Biglari
  • Roya Peirovi
  • Aliyeh Ghasemi
  • Ahmad ZareiEmail author
Research Article


Areas contaminated with heavy metals can pose major risks to human health and ecological environments. The aims of this study are to assess human health risk and pollution index for heavy metals in agricultural soils irrigated by effluents of stabilization ponds in Birjand, Iran. The results revealed that the levels of Cr, Mn, Zn, Fe, Cu, Cd, and Pb were in range of 70.3–149.65, 355–570, 31.15–98.45, 23,925–29,140, 22.75–25.95, 0.17–6.51, and 8.5–23.5 mg/kg in topsoils, respectively. Total hazard index values from heavy metals through three exposure routes for adults and children were 9.13E−01 and 1.10, respectively, indicating that there was non-carcinogenic risk for children. The total risk of carcinogenic metals (Cr, Cd, and Pb) through the three exposure routes for adults and children was 1.06E−04 and 9.76E−04, respectively, which indicates that the metals in the soil will not induce carcinogenic risks to these age groups. Pollution levels of heavy metals in soil samples including enrichment factor (EF), contamination factor (CF), pollution load index (PLI), and geo-accumulation index (Igeo) showed heavy metal contamination of agricultural soils. The results of the present study provide basic information about heavy metal contamination control and human health risk assessment management in the study area.


Heavy metals Irrigated soil Health risk Stabilization ponds effluents 



The authors would like to thank Professor Mehdi Zarrei in Sickkids hospital in Toronto, Canada, and Mansoureh Farhang for valuable comments and suggestions, allowing us to improve this paper.

Funding information

This research was supported by funds provided by Research Committee in Gonabad University of Medical Sciences, Iran (Ethics code:IR.GMU.REC.1397.003).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Azam Karimi
    • 1
  • Ali Naghizadeh
    • 2
  • Hamed Biglari
    • 1
  • Roya Peirovi
    • 1
  • Aliyeh Ghasemi
    • 2
  • Ahmad Zarei
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Health Engineering, School of Public Health, Social Determinants of Health Research CenterGonabad University of Medical SciencesGonabadIran
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Health Engineering, Faculty of HealthBirjand University of Medical SciencesBirjandIran

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