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Assessing potential risk of heavy metal exposure from consumption of home-produced vegetables by urban populations

Hough, Rupert L.; Breward, Neil; Young, Scott D.; Crout, Neil M.J.; Tye, Andrew M.; Moir, Ann M.; Thornton, Iain. 2004 Assessing potential risk of heavy metal exposure from consumption of home-produced vegetables by urban populations. Environmental Health Perspectives, 112 (2). 215-221.

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Abstract/Summary

We performed a risk assessment of metal exposure to population subgroups living on, and growing food on, urban sites. We modeled uptake of cadmium, copper, nickel, lead, and zinc for a selection of commonly grown allotment and garden vegetables. Generalized linear cross-validation showed that final predictions of Cd, Cu, Ni, and Zn content of food crops were satisfactory, whereas the Pb uptake models were less robust. We used predicted concentrations of metals in the vegetables to assess the risk of exposure to human populations from homegrown food sources. Risks from other exposure pathways (consumption of commercially produced foodstuffs, dust inhalation, and soil ingestion) were also estimated. These models were applied to a geochemical database of an urban conurbation in the West Midlands, United Kingdom. Risk, defined as a "hazard index," was mapped for three population subgroups: average person, highly exposed person, and the highly exposed infant (assumed to be a 2-year-old child). The results showed that food grown on 92% of the urban area presented minimal risk to the average person subgroup. However, more vulnerable population subgroups (highly exposed person and the highly exposed infant) were subject to hazard index values greater than unity. This study highlights the importance of site-specific risk assessment and the "suitable for use" approach to urban redevelopment.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Programmes: BGS Programmes > Other
ISSN: 0091-6765
Date made live: 09 May 2012 10:45
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/17992

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