Comparative study of levels of heavy metals in unwashed and washed vegetables and their impact on human health

Kumar A., Kumar V and Seema

This study was aimed to compare the level of heavy metals in unwashed and washed vegetables collected from urban and remote areas. The unwashed vegetables showed higher metal concentration than washed vegetables. The mean concentration of Cu and Zn was lower than PFA and FAO/WHO standard, at urban and remote areas, while mean concentration of Pb and Cd was found to be higher than PFA standard in unwashed and washed vegetables at urban areas, whereas lower than PFA standard but exceeded the FAO/WHO standard in both unwashed and washed vegetables at remote areas. Percentage reduction (PR) of heavy metals in vegetables was observed in the order of Pb > Cd > Cu > Zn at urban and Pb > Cd > Zn > Cu at remote areas. The daily intake of Pb, Cd, Cu and Zn were 6.98, 24.98, 1.3 and 0.123% of PDTI respectively. Health risk index (HRI) > 1 was found to be 4.627 (spinach), 4.429 (ladyfinger), 2.403 (cauliflower), 1.954 (radish) and 1.572 (tomato) for unwashed, and 2.031 (spinach) and 1.936 (ladyfinger) for washed vegetables at urban areas posed a severe health risk with respect to Cd. Therefore, proper washing of vegetables before consumption and also appropriate precaution should be taken at the time of marketing of vegetables.

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