Environmental Earth Sciences

, 76:182 | Cite as

Accumulation of lead and associated metals (Cu and Zn) at different growth stages of soybean crops in lead-contaminated soils: food security and crop quality implications

  • Andrés Blanco
  • María J. Salazar
  • Carolina Vergara Cid
  • María L. Pignata
  • Judith H. RodriguezEmail author
Original Article


The Pb, Cu and Zn content, the physicochemical parameters in soils (EC, OM%, soil texture and pH) and the metal accumulation of Glycine max plants at different growth stages were evaluated. Topsoil and soybean samples were collected in the vicinity of a former battery-recycling plant, with the results showing that only the concentrations of Pb in soils corresponding to sites located near to the lead emission source were above the maximum permissible levels. However, soybean crops accumulated Pb above the permitted levels at all studied sites, revealing a potential toxicological risk for direct consumption. Thus, the accumulation of Pb in soybean was directly related to the translocation factor of the metal from roots to aerial parts of the plant. This was evidenced as a lower accumulation at early growth stages and a higher accumulation at maturity, with the distribution between organs coinciding with nutrient incorporation and remobilization in the plant. Moreover, the bioconcentration factor revealed that the bioaccumulation of lead in soybean was a consequence of the lead-recycling plant activity in the past. Taken together, results of the present study demonstrated that soybean crops can incorporate and accumulate potentially toxic metals, such as lead.


Glycine max Lead Battery-recycling plant Vegetative growth stages Crop quality Food security 



This work was partially supported by the Secretaría de Ciencia y Técnica de la Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, UNC, (Res. 203/2014), Fondo para la Investigación Científica y Técnica (PICT 2011-2342; 2011-0084; 2013-0988) and Consejo de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (11220120100402CO). The authors Blanco and Vergara Cid (Ph.D. students in Biological Sciences, UNC) and Salazar were funded by CONICET through scholarships. We would especially like to thank the Brazilian Synchrotron Light Source (LNLS) (partially supported under proposals XAFS1-15165 and XAFS1-15981). Special thanks are also due to the land owner and mayor of Bouwer (J. Lupi) and to Dr. P. Hobson (native speaker) for language revision.

Supplementary material

12665_2017_6508_MOESM1_ESM.pptx (138 kb)
Supplementary Table 1. Bioconcentration factor (BCF) and translocation factor (TF) of Pb in soybean in the study area (PPTX 137 kb)
12665_2017_6508_MOESM2_ESM.pptx (74 kb)
Supplementary Figure 1. Simple linear regression between Pb Mob (dependent variable) and pH (regressor) (PPTX 73 kb)
12665_2017_6508_MOESM3_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Supplementary Figure 2. (A) Target hazard quotients (THQ) of Pb for soybean consumption of Chinese and European-Argentine inhabitants. (B) Non-carcinogenic risk index (HI) for soybean consumption of Chinese and European-Argentine inhabitants (DOCX 13 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrés Blanco
    • 1
  • María J. Salazar
    • 1
  • Carolina Vergara Cid
    • 1
  • María L. Pignata
    • 1
  • Judith H. Rodriguez
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Instituto Multidisciplinario de Biología Vegetal, Área Contaminación y BioindicadoresUniversidad Nacional de Córdoba, CONICET, FCEFyNCórdobaArgentina

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