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Z Lebensm Unters Forsch. 1990 Jan;190(1):34-9.

Heavy metals in vegetables grown in The Netherlands and in domestic and imported fruits.

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National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection; Laboratory for Residue Analysis, Bilthoven, The Netherlands.


The contents of cadmium, lead mercury, copper, manganese and zinc in 242 samples of 37 different species of domestic and imported fruits have been determined. Also contents of the same heavy metals, except mercury, have been determined in 205 samples of 7 species of domestic vegetables (lettuce, spinach, endive, beetroots, onions, celeriac and Swedish turnips). The median contents (in mg/kg fresh mass of the edible part) found for fruits are: Cd 0.002; Pb 0.017; Hg 0.002; Cu 0.61; Mn 0.52 and Zn 0.99. In the vegetables median levels have been found (mg/kg) of 0.009-0.073 for Cd, 0.01-0.03 for Pb, less than 0.2-0.3 for Cu, 0.69-1.41 for Mn and 0.95-5.5 for Zn. The contribution of fruits to the tolerable daily intakes of Cd, Pb and Hg is, for an average consumption pattern, less than 1%. On the other hand, the contribution to the recommended amounts of the essential elements Cu, Mn, and Zn is no more than 1%-3%. From the vegetables an average portion of spinach contains 19% and 2.6% of the tolerable daily amounts of Cd and Pb, respectively. For the other species of vegetables these figures are less than 5% for Cd (except for endive, 6.8%) and for lead less than 1%. Spinach contributes considerably to the need for Cu, Mn and Zn, in general more than 10% of the recommended daily amounts. The other species of vegetables contribute only from less than 1% to less than few percents.

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