Lead Toxicity: Health Hazards, Influence on Food Chain, and Sustainable Remediation Approaches

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Mar 25;17(7):2179. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17072179.


Lead (Pb) toxicity has been a subject of interest for environmental scientists due to its toxic effect on plants, animals, and humans. An increase in several Pb related industrial activities and use of Pb containing products such as agrochemicals, oil and paint, mining, etc. can lead to Pb contamination in the environment and thereby, can enter the food chain. Being one of the most toxic heavy metals, Pb ingestion via the food chain has proven to be a potential health hazard for plants and humans. The current review aims to summarize the research updates on Pb toxicity and its effects on plants, soil, and human health. Relevant literature from the past 20 years encompassing comprehensive details on Pb toxicity has been considered with key issues such as i) Pb bioavailability in soil, ii) Pb biomagnification, and iii) Pb- remediation, which has been addressed in detail through physical, chemical, and biological lenses. In the review, among different Pb-remediation approaches, we have highlighted certain advanced approaches such as microbial assisted phytoremediation which could possibly minimize the Pb load from the resources in a sustainable manner and would be a viable option to ensure a safe food production system.

Keywords: health hazards; lead contamination; lead toxicity; remediation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Environmental Restoration and Remediation
  • Food Chain*
  • Food Supply*
  • Humans
  • Lead* / toxicity
  • Metals, Heavy*
  • Soil
  • Soil Pollutants* / toxicity


  • Metals, Heavy
  • Soil
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Lead