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Bioaccumulation of nickel in tomato plants: risks to human health and agro-environmental impacts

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Abstract

Anthropogenic activities such as agriculture, industry, and mining have contributed significantly to the accumulation of heavy metals in the soil, which in turn cause problems to human health and to the environment. The present work aims to study the effects of nickel (Ni) on the development of tomato plants, the risks to human health associated to the consumption of contaminated tomatoes, and the consequences to the environment. The experiment was carried out in greenhouse environment for a period of 120 days, and the plants were cultivated in soils with four different concentrations of Ni: 0, 35, 70, and 105 mg kg−1. The concentration of nickel in each part (root, stem, leaf, and fruit) of the tomato plant was measured at four different stages of the cycle: 30, 60, 90, and 120 days, by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometer (ICP-OES). At the end of the cycle, the concentration of certain macro- and micronutrients was also determined and related to the corresponding Ni concentration in the soil. The distribution of Ni in the parts of the plant was analyzed from the bioaccumulation factor temporal behavior. Nickel concentrations found in the fruit were too low to pose a risk to human health. As a result of this research, it was verified that soils with nickel concentrations close to 70 mg kg−1, which is the limit established by the CONAMA resolution (420/2009), may actually represent an optimum concentration value for the development of tomato plants. It also increases productivity per plant and reduces the use of resources such as water and agricultural inputs.

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Acknowledgments

L. Correia would like to thank Brazilian Agency of Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES - Portuguese: Coordenação de Aperfeiçõamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior) (for the doctorate scholarship. The authors also wish to thank the Funding Authority for Studies and Projects (FINEP - Portuguese: Financiadora de Estudos e Projetos) for the financial support to acquire the ICP spectrometer, and CEPEC/CEPLAC for the support in the greenhouse experiment.

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Correia, L., Marrocos, P., Montalván Olivares, D.M. et al. Bioaccumulation of nickel in tomato plants: risks to human health and agro-environmental impacts. Environ Monit Assess 190, 317 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-018-6658-7

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