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J Environ Sci Health B. 2013;48(3):219-25. doi: 10.1080/03601234.2013.730340.

Elevated concentrations of trace elements in soil do not necessarily reflect metals available to plants.

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  • 1Division of Environmental Studies, College of Agriculture, Food Science, and Sustainable Systems, Kentucky State University, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601-2355, USA.


Bioaccumulation and entry of trace elements from soil into the food chain have made trace-elements major environmental pollutants. The main objective of this investigation was to study the impact of mixing native agricultural soil with municipal sewage sludge (SS) or SS mixed with yard waste (SS+YW) compost on total concentration of trace elements in soil, metals available to plants, and mobility of metals from soil into peppers and melon fruits. Regardless of soil treatment, the average concentrations of Ni, Cd, Pb, Cr, Cu, Zn, and Mo in melon fruits were 5.2, 0.7, 3.9, 0.9, 34.3, 96.1, and 3.5μg g(-1), respectively. Overall concentrations of Ni, Cd, Pb, and Zn in melon fruits were significantly greater (P < 0.05) than pepper fruits. No significant differences were found in Cr, Cu, and Mo concentrations between pepper and melon fruits at harvest time. Total metal concentrations and metal ions in soil available to melon and pepper plants were also determined. Total concentration of each metal in the soil was significantly greater than concentration of metal ions available to plants. Elevated Ni and Mo bioaccumulation factor (BAF > 1) of melon fruits of plants grown in SS+YW mixed soil is a characteristic that would be less favorable when plants grown on sites having high concentrations of these metals.

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