Residual metal concentrations in soils and leaf accumulations in tobacco a decade following farmland application of municipal sludge

Environ Pollut. 1989;56(2):113-26. doi: 10.1016/0269-7491(89)90170-x.


The objectives of this investigation were to examine the long-term residual effects of metal loading through sewage sludge applications on the total vs. diethylene triamine pentacetic acid (DTPA) extractable metal concentrations in soil and leaf accumulations in tobacco. Maryland tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.), cv. 'MD 609', was grown in 1983 and 1984 at two sites in Maryland that had been amended in 1972 with dewatered, digested sewage sludge from washington, DC, at rates equal to 0, 56, 112 and 224 mg ha(-1). The metal concentrations in the sludge, in mg kg(-1) dry weight, were: 1300 Zn, 570 Cu, 280 Pb, 45 Ni and 13 Cd. Soil samples collected from the surface horizon and composite leaf samples of cured tobacco were analyzed for total Zn, Cu, Mn, Fe, Pb, Ni and Cd concentrations. The soil samples were also examined for soil pH and DTPA extractable metals. Equations were generated using polynomic and stepwise regression analyses which described the relationships between total vs. DTPA extractable soil metals, and between DTPA soil and soil pH vs. plant metal concentrations, respectively. Significant increases were observed for both total and DTPA extractable metal concentrations for all metals, with all but total Mn and Ni being significant for linear and quadratic effects regarding sludge rates. However, linear relationships were found between DTPA extractable vs. total soil concentrations for all elements except Pb and Ni which were quadratic. Significant increases in plant Zn, Cu, Mn, Ni and Cd and decreases in Fe were observed with increased sludge rates. Plant Pb levels were unaffected by sludge applied Pb. Linear relationships were observed between plant Zn and Cd and DTPA soil metal levels: however, Mn and Cu levels were described by quadratic and cubic relationship, respectively. Relationships between plant Fe and Pb and DTPA extractable concentrations were nonsignificant. Additional safeguards to protect crop contamination from heavy metals such as Cd were discussed.