Heavy metals in rice and garden vegetables and their potential health risks to inhabitants in the vicinity of an industrial zone in Jiangsu, China

J Environ Sci (China). 2010;22(11):1792-9. doi: 10.1016/s1001-0742(09)60321-1.


Contamination of soil and agricultural products by heavy metals resulting from rapid industrial development has caused major concern. In this study, we investigated heavy metal (Cu, Zn, Pb, Cr, Hg and Cd) concentrations in rice and garden vegetables, as well as in cultivated soils, in a rural-industrial developed region in southern Jiangsu, China, and estimated the potential health risks of metals to the inhabitants via consumption of locally produced rice and garden vegetables. A questionnaire-based survey on dietary consumption rates of foodstuffs showed that rice and vegetables accounted for 64% of total foodstuffs consumed, and over 60% of rice and vegetables were grown in the local region. Average concentrations of Cr, Cu, Zn, Cd, Hg and Pb were 0.75, 2.64, 12.00, 0.014, 0.006 and 0.054 mg/kg dw (dry weight) in rice and were 0.67, 1.18, 4.34, 0.011, 0.002 and 0.058 mg/kg fw (fresh weight) in garden vegetables, respectively. These values were all below the maximum allowable concentration in food in China except for Cr in vegetables. Leafy vegetables had higher metal concentrations than solanaceae vegetables. Average daily intake of Cr, Cu, Zn, Cd, Hg and Pb through the consumption of rice and garden vegetables were 5.66, 16.90, 74.21, 0.10, 0.04 and 0.43 microg/(kg x day), respectively. Although Hazard Quotient values of individual metals were all lower than 1, when all six metal intakes via self-planted rice and garden vegetables were combined, the Hazard Index value was close to 1. Potential health risks from exposure to heavy metals in self-planted rice and garden vegetables need more attention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Food Contamination / analysis
  • Humans
  • Metals, Heavy / metabolism*
  • Metals, Heavy / toxicity*
  • Oryza / metabolism*
  • Soil Pollutants / metabolism
  • Soil Pollutants / toxicity
  • Vegetables / metabolism*


  • Metals, Heavy
  • Soil Pollutants