Heavy metal distribution between parent soil and pepper in an unpolluted area, Hainan Island, China

Abstract

Consuming edible plants contaminated by heavy metals transferred from soil is an important pathway for human exposure to environmental contaminants. In the past several decades, heavy metal accumulation in contaminated soil has been widely studied; however, few researches investigated the background levels of metals in plants and evaluated the difference in plants grown in soils produced from different parent rocks. In this study, a systemic survey of heavy metal distribution and accumulation in the soil–pepper system was investigated in an unpolluted area, Hainan Island, China. Levels of Cu, Pb, Zn and Cd were measured in soils and pepper fruits from five representative pepper-growing areas with different soil parent rocks (i.e. basalt, granite, sedimentary rock, metamorphic rock and alluvial deposits). Average concentrations of Cu, Pb, Zn and Cd in pepper fruits were 11.52, 0.84, 8.77 and 0.05 mg/kg, respectively. The concentrations of heavy metals in soils are controlled by the parent materials and varied greatly from in different areas. Heavy metal contents in all pepper samples were lower than the Chinese maximum contaminant levels. The relationship between heavy metals in soils and biological absorption coefficient (BAC) of pepper fruits suggests that the uptake ability of pepper for soil metals depends mainly on the physiological mechanism, while in some cases, the soil types and supergene environment are also important.

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Acknowledgments

This study was supported by the China Geological Survey and Hainan Geological Survey. The authors appreciate the valuable suggestions and comments of Dr. Yamin Deng (China University of Geosciences).

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Correspondence to Yu Guo or Zhengyu Bao.

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Guo, Y., Fu, Y., Yan, S. et al. Heavy metal distribution between parent soil and pepper in an unpolluted area, Hainan Island, China. Environ Earth Sci 66, 1083–1089 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12665-011-1314-3

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Keywords

  • Heavy metals
  • Soil
  • Pepper fruits
  • Biological absorption coefficient (BAC)