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Environ Pollut. 2008 Jul;154(2):254-63. Epub 2007 Nov 26.

Heavy metal (Cu, Zn, Cd and Pb) contamination of vegetables in urban India: a case study in Varanasi.

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Ecology Research Laboratory, Department of Botany, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi 221005, India.


The contributions of heavy metals in selected vegetables through atmospheric deposition were quantified in an urban area of India. Deposition rate of Zn was recorded maximum followed by Cu, Cd and Pb. The concentrations of Zn and Cu were highest in Brassica oleracea, Cd in Abelmoschus esculentus and B. oleracea, while Pb was highest in Beta vulgaris. Heavy metal pollution index showed that B. oleracea was maximally contaminated with heavy metals followed by A. esculentus and then B. vulgaris. The results of washing showed that atmospheric deposition has contributed to the increased levels of heavy metals in vegetables. Both Cu and Cd posed health risk to local population via test vegetables consumption, whereas Pb posed the same only through B. oleracea. The study concludes that atmospheric depositions can elevate the levels of heavy metals in vegetables during marketing having potential health hazards to consumers.

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