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Title: Heavy metal content of vegetables irrigated with mixtures of wastewater and sewage sludge in Zimbabwe: Implications for human health
Authors: Muchuweti, M
Birkett, JW
Chinyanga, E
Zvauya, R
Scrimshaw, MD
Lester, JN
Keywords: Soils;Sewage sludge;Wastewater;Heavy metals;Green vegetables;Zimbabwe
Issue Date: 2005
Publisher: Elsevier
Citation: Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. 112(1): 41–48
Abstract: There is growing public concern in Zimbabwe over the illegal cultivation of vegetables on soils amended with sewage sludge or irrigated with admixtures of sewage and sewage sludge. Excessive accumulation of heavy metals in agricultural soils may not only result in environmental contamination, but lead to elevated heavy metal uptake by crops, which may affect food quality and safety. The work reported here studied heavy metal concentrations in crops irrigated with sewage sludge and sewage/sewage sludge admixtures at Firle Municipal Farm in Harare. The crops analysed in this study are heavily contaminated with the four regulated elements Cd, Cu, Pb and Zn. This contamination is at its highest in two of the staple dietary crops maize and tsunga. Tsunga leaves contained 3.68 mg kg-1 Cd, over 18 times the permissible level by the EU standards (0.2 mg kg-1); Cu concentrations were 111 mg kg-1, 5 times the EU Standard (20 mg kg-1); concentrations of Pb were 6.77 mg kg-1, over 22 times the permissible levels allowed by both EU standards and UK guidelines (0.3 mg kg-1); Zn concentrations were 221 mg kg-1, over 4 times the guideline value (50 mg kg-1). The other plants (beans, maize, peppers and sugarcane) also contained concentrations of heavy metals above the permissible levels. Furthermore the concentrations observed in this study were higher than those reported by other workers who have examined vegetation from other contaminated sites. This study highlights the potential risks involved in the cultivation and consumption of vegetables on plots irrigated with sewage sludge, a practice which may place at risk the health of the urban population who consume these vegetables.
ISSN: 0167-8809
Appears in Collections:Environment
Institute for the Environment

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