Food Security

, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 45–54 | Cite as

Heavy metal pollution and potential health risk assessment of white rice around mine areas in Hunan Province, China

  • Ming LeiEmail author
  • Bai-qing Tie
  • Zheng-guo Song
  • Bo-Han Liao
  • Joe Eugene Lepo
  • Yi-zong Huang
Original Paper


To assess the pollution situation and human health risks, the concentrations of heavy metals Pb, Cd, Cu, and Zn in paddy soils and white rice around seven mining-affected areas in Hunan Province were analyzed. The ranges of concentrations of Pb (23.9–1595.8 mg kg−1), Cd (0.3–9.5 mg kg−1), Cu (31.2–321.5 mg kg−1) and Zn (56.1–3478.9 mg kg−1) in all paddy soils were significantly higher than Hunan background values and even exceeded the maximum permissible concentrations for paddy soil quality recommended by the Ministry of Environmental Protection of China. The geoaccumulation index (I- geo ) showed that Cd (1.42–6.33) was the predominant pollutant in all paddy soils, while Zn was the least important element. The concentrations of Pb, Cd, Cu, and Zn in white rice ranged from 0.18 to 0.72 mg kg−1, 0.10 to 1.32 mg kg−1, 3.83 to 5.95 mg kg−1, and 8.64 to 18.18 mg kg−1, respectively. Human health risk, associated with these heavy metals, was assessed based on hazard quotients (HQ) and hazard indexes (HI) for adults through consumption of white rice. HQ values of heavy metals (except for Cd) in most of mining-affected areas were below 1.0, while the HI of all heavy metals in all mine areas was higher than 1.0, the maximum acceptable level, suggesting that consumption of such contaminated white rice was a health risk. Except for the Leng Shui-Jiang mine area, Cd was the major contributor to the risk in the mine areas through white rice consumption, amounting to over 67 % of the HI, while Zn was a minimal contributor compared to the other metals.


Heavy metal Potential health risk Mining-affected area Paddy soil White rice Hunan province 



This work was supported by the National Science Foundation of China (21007014/B0702), Ministry of Environment Protection’s Special Fund for Scientific Research in the Public Interest (201009047), Key Laboratory of Production Environment and Agro-product Safety of Ministry of Agriculture and Tianjin Key Laboratory of Agro-environment and Food Safety (2010-KJ-KF-03), and by Central Public Research Institutes Basic Funds for Research and Development (Agro-Environmental Protection Institute, Ministry of Agriculture, PR China).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and International Society for Plant Pathology 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ming Lei
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bai-qing Tie
    • 1
  • Zheng-guo Song
    • 2
  • Bo-Han Liao
    • 3
  • Joe Eugene Lepo
    • 4
  • Yi-zong Huang
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.College of Resource and EnvironmentHunan Agricultural UniversityChangshaChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Production Environment and Agro-product Safety of Ministry of Agriculture and Tianjin Key Laboratory of Agro-environment and Food SafetyTianjinChina
  3. 3.College of ForestryCentral South University of Forestry and TechnologyChangshaChina
  4. 4.Center for Environmental Diagnostics and BioremediationUniversity of West FloridaPensacolaUSA
  5. 5.Research Center for Eco-Environmental SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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