Emerging risks of toxic metal(loid)s in soil-vegetables influenced by steel-making activities and isotopic source apportionment

Jin Wang, Lulu Wang, Yuxuan Wang, Daniel C.W. Tsang, Xiao Yang, Jingzi Beiyuan, Meiling Yin, Tangfu Xiao, Yanjun Jiang, Wenli Lin, Yuchen Zhou, Juan Liu, Liang Wang, Min Zhao

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Industrial activities tend to deteriorate adjacent agricultural lands due to accumulation of potentially toxic elements in soils and crops. However, better understanding of their distinctive source partitions and transfer process remains insufficient in steel-making area. The paper focuses on the pollution levels, health risks, and provenance identification of Tl, As, Pb, Cu, Ni, Co, Sb, Cd, Zn, Be, Cr, Fe, Mn, Mo, Sn, and V in common vegetables from different farmlands near a steel-making plant. The results showed that the Tl, As, Pb, Cd, Cr, Cu and Mn were of high-level contamination in soils and generally above the maximum permissible level (MPL). Calculation using hazard quotients (HQ) exhibited that consumption of the studied vegetables may entail significant health risks to residents, especially for children, resulting from the elevated contents of Tl, As and associated toxic elements. Calculation by binary mixing model using Pb isotopic compositions suggested that steel-making activities contributed to 35–80% of the contamination of Pb and As in vegetables. It is necessary to adopt appropriate remediation measures to mitigate the farmland contamination and ensure the food safety of the agricultural products.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106207
JournalEnvironment international
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Agricultural soil
  • Food safety
  • Potentially toxic elements
  • Risk assessment
  • Thallium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)

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