Jump to main content
Jump to site search

Issue 10, 2013
Previous Article Next Article

Risk assessment of vegetables irrigated with arsenic-contaminated water

Author affiliations


Arsenic (As) contaminated water is used in South Asian countries to irrigate food crops, but the subsequent uptake of As by vegetables and associated human health risk is poorly understood. We used a pot trial to determine the As uptake of four vegetable species (carrot, radish, spinach and tomato) with As irrigation levels ranging from 50 to 1000 μg L−1 and two irrigation techniques, non-flooded (70% field capacity for all studied vegetables), and flooded (110% field capacity initially followed by aerobic till next irrigation) for carrot and spinach only. Only the 1000 μg As L−1 treatment showed a significant increase of As concentration in the vegetables over all other treatments (P < 0.05). The distribution of As in vegetable tissues was species dependent; As was mainly found in the roots of tomato and spinach, but accumulated in the leaves and skin of root crops. There was a higher concentration of As in the vegetables grown under flood irrigation relative to non-flood irrigation. The trend of As bioaccumulation was spinach > tomato > radish > carrot. The As concentration in spinach leaves exceeded the Chinese maximum permissible concentration for inorganic As (0.05 μg g−1 fresh weight) by a factor of 1.6 to 6.4 times. No other vegetables recorded an As concentration that exceeded this threshold. The USEPA parameters hazard quotient and cancer risk were calculated for adults and adolescents. A hazard quotient value greater than 1 and a cancer risk value above the highest target value of 10−4 confirms potential risk to humans from ingestion of spinach leaves. In our study, spinach presents a direct risk to human health where flood irrigated with water containing an arsenic concentration greater than 50 μg As L−1.

Graphical abstract: Risk assessment of vegetables irrigated with arsenic-contaminated water

Back to tab navigation

Supplementary files

Article information

26 Apr 2013
05 Aug 2013
First published
05 Aug 2013

Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2013,15, 1866-1875
Article type

Risk assessment of vegetables irrigated with arsenic-contaminated water

S. M. Bhatti, C. W. N. Anderson, R. B. Stewart and B. H. Robinson, Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2013, 15, 1866
DOI: 10.1039/C3EM00218G

Social activity

Search articles by author