Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 1214–1224 | Cite as

Management of human health risk in the context of kitchen gardens polluted by lead and cadmium near a lead recycling company

  • Stéphane Mombo
  • Yann Foucault
  • Frédéric Deola
  • Irène Gaillard
  • Sylvaine Goix
  • Muhammad Shahid
  • Eva Schreck
  • Antoine Pierart
  • Camille DumatEmail author
Soil Pollution and Remediation



At the global scale, gardening activities are often performed in urban areas with a historical background of pollution. In this study, a participatory program was developed with citizens concerned by gardening activities near a 50-year-old regulated lead recycling company, with the aim of co-constructing the tools for the assessment and management of potential sanitary risks induced by historic pollution with persistent (eco) toxic metals: lead and cadmium.

Materials and methods

Soils and vegetables (lettuce, leek, celery, carrot, chard, pumpkin, and celeriac) samples were collected from four kitchen gardens neighboring a 50-year-old secondary lead smelter. Both total and in vitro human bioaccessible metal concentrations in the cultivated plants were measured in relation to soil characteristics.

Results and discussion

The results showed that the soils of these gardens were slightly contaminated by metals (Pb, 77 to 236 mg kg−1; and Cd, 0.5 to 1 mg kg−1) in comparison with the natural geologic background. However, significant pollution of vegetables can occur especially with lead (Pb up to 9.8 mg kg−1 in lettuce) and certainly as a result of direct foliar transfer. The washing of plants before consumption is therefore recommended in the context of atmospheric fallout of ultrafine particles enriched with metals.


Metal bioaccessibility measure integrates the influence of metal type, plant type, and soil physico-chemical properties. Based on the results, it is proposed that human bioaccessible fraction of metals may also be currently taken into account as well as total metal quantities and bioaccumulation factors in risk assessment studies performed in gardens. Overall, this study has led to reflections and functional recommendations aimed at reducing human exposure and to finally developing sustainable gardening practices.


Bioaccessibility Human health Kitchen gardens Metals Risk assessment 



ANRT (National Agency for Research and Technology) and STCM (Société de Traitement Chimique des Métaux) are acknowledged for their financial support and technical help. This work has received support from the National Research Agency under reference ANR-12-0011-VBDU.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stéphane Mombo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yann Foucault
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Frédéric Deola
    • 3
  • Irène Gaillard
    • 4
  • Sylvaine Goix
    • 5
  • Muhammad Shahid
    • 6
  • Eva Schreck
    • 5
  • Antoine Pierart
    • 1
    • 2
  • Camille Dumat
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Université de Toulouse, INP–ENSATCastanet-TolosanFrance
  2. 2.UMR 5245 CNRS–INP–UPS, EcoLab (Laboratoire d’écologie fonctionnelle)Castanet-TolosanFrance
  3. 3.STCMToulouseFrance
  4. 4.Certop UMR5044-Centre d’Etude et de Recherche Travail Organisation PouvoirToulouseFrance
  5. 5.Géosciences Environnement Toulouse, Observatoire Midi PyrénéesUniversité de Toulouse, CNRS, IRDToulouseFrance
  6. 6.Department of Environmental SciencesCOMSATS Institute of Information TechnologyVehariPakistan

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