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Investigation of Heavy Metals Uptake by Vegetable Crops from Metal-Contaminated Soil

Authors: Azita Behbahaninia, Seid Ahmad Mirbagheri


The use of sewage sludge and effluents from wastewater treatment plants for irrigation of agricultural lands is on the rise particularly in peri-urban areas of developing countries. The reuse of nutrients and organic matter in treated wastewater and sewage sludge via land application is a desirable goal. However, trace or heavy metals present in sludge pose the risk of human or phytotoxicity from land application. Long-term use of sewage sludge, heavy metals can accumulate to phytotoxic levels and results in reduced plants growth and/or enhanced metal concentrations in plants, which consumed by animals then enter the food chain. In this research, the amount of heavy metals was measured in plants irrigated with wastewater and sludge application. For this purpose, three pilots were made in a Shush treatment plant in south of Tehran. Three plants species, spinach, lettuce and radish were selected and planted in the pilots.First pilot was irrigated just with wastewater of treatment plant and second pilot was irrigated with wastewater and sludge application .Third pilot was irrigated with simulated heavy metals solution equal 50 years of irrigation. The results indicate that the average of amount of heavy metals Pb, Cd in three plant species in first pilot were lower than permissible limits .In second pilot, Cadmium accumulations are high in three species plants and more than the standard limits. Concentration of Cd , Pb have exceed their permitted limits in plants in third pilot . It was concluded that the use of wastewater and sludge application in agricultural lands enriched soils with heavy metals to concentrations that may pose potential environmental and health risks in the long-term.

Keywords: Soil, contaminate, heavy metals, wastewater, sludge, plants.

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