Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 115–123

Arsenic, cadmium, and lead pollution and uptake by rice (Oryza sativa L.) grown in greenhouse

  • Ming Lei
  • Baiqing Tie
  • Paul N. Williams
  • Yuanming Zheng
  • Yizong Huang



Hunan province is well-known for its extensive base-metal extraction and smelting industries. However, the legacies of excavation operations, transportation, and selective smelting activities within Hunan have resulted in the generation of large quantities of mine wastes, which will become the sources of metal contamination in the environment. Thus, there is an increasingly important health issue underlying the study of arable land pollution and transfer of As, Cd, and Pb in the paddy soil–rice system.

Materials and methods

Paddy soils collected from mining- and smelting-impacted areas in Hunan province and rice seed (Oryza sativa L. cv Jia Hua-1) were used for pot experiments under greenhouse conditions. One 30-day-old seedling was transplanted into one pot containing 5.0 kg pretreated soil. At harvest, rice grains and shoots were washed with distilled water to remove surface soil, and oven-dried at 65°C for 96 h until a constant weight was reached. Roots were washed carefully with distilled water for the next process of extracting iron plaque using dithionite–citrate–bicarbonate solution. Total concentrations of As, Cd, and Pb in soil and rice plant tissues were measured by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer.

Results and discussion

Total concentrations of As, Cd, and Pb in the soils collected from 12 mining- and smelting-impacted areas in Hunan province were much higher than Hunan background values and exceeded the maximum concentration limit for soils set by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. The yields of rice grain from Pb/Zn mining and smelting sites were negatively correlated to overall pollution scores. Distributions of As, Cd, and Pb in rice plant followed: root >> shoot > husk > whole grain. About 30.1–88.1% of As, 11.2–43.5% of Cd, and 14.0–33.9% of Pb were accumulated in iron plaque on root surfaces.


High concentrations of As, Cd, and Pb are observed in paddy soils from mining- and smelting-impacted areas in Hunan province, indicating those paddy soils suffer serious combined heavy metal contamination. In particular, Cd is the dominant contaminant followed by As and Pb in paddy soils from most locations. The distributions of As, Cd, and Pb in rice tissue were: root >> shoot > husk > whole grain. Concentrations of Pb in all whole grain and of As and Cd in 50% of whole grain samples exceeded Chinese Hygienic Standard values for food.


Distribution Multi-metal contamination Overall pollution score Paddy soils Rice plant Transfer 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ming Lei
    • 1
    • 2
  • Baiqing Tie
    • 2
  • Paul N. Williams
    • 1
  • Yuanming Zheng
    • 1
  • Yizong Huang
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Center for Eco-Environmental SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.College of Resource and EnvironmentHunan Agricultural UniversityChangshaPeople’s Republic of China

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