Heavy metals in vegetables collected from production and market sites of a tropical urban area of India
Vegetables (Beta vulgaris L., Abelmoschus esculentus L. and Brassica oleracea L.) from the production and market sites of India were tested for Cu, Cd, Zn and Pb. At market sites, the mean concentration of Cu in cauliflower, and of Zn and Cd in both palak and cauliflower had exceeded the PFA standard. Zn at the production sites also exceeded the PFA standard in cauliflower. Cd concentration in vegetables tested from both production and market sites was many folds higher than the EU standard. In contrast, Pb in vegetables tested from both production and market sites was below the PFA limit, but was considerably higher than the current EU and WHO standards. Heavy metals accumulation in vegetables tested are higher at market sites than those at the crop production sites. The contributions of these vegetables to dietary intake of Cu, Zn, Cd and Pb were 13%, 1%, 47% and 9% of provisional tolerable daily intake, respectively. The study concludes that the transportation and marketing systems of vegetables play a significant role in elevating the contaminant levels of heavy metals which may pose a threat to the quality of the vegetables with consequences for the health of the consumers of locally produced foodstuffs.