Main Article Content

Akbar Ali Khan
Hizbullah Khan
Kifayatullah Khan
Said Akbar Khan
Shahid Iqbal
Muhammad Afnan
Muhammad Adnan



This study investigated the concentrations of different selected heavy metals like Cadmium (Cd), Chromium (Cr), Copper (Cu), Manganese (Mn), Nickel (Ni), Lead (Pb) and Zinc (Zn) in farming products (grains and vegetables), and their probable health impacts in district Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Pakistan. Locally grown food crops containing grains (wheat, maize, rice) and vegetables (lady finger, turnip, brinjil, tomato, bitter gourd, eddoe, potato) and human blood samples were collected haphazardly from the five selected locations named Khazana dheri, Par Hoti, Gujjar Ghari, Katlang and Takht Bhai of the area.

The samples were checked for the selected heavy metals on an Atomic Absorption Spectrometer (AAS). The findings were also matched with their acceptable parameters issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) and State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA). The concentrations have been detected in a descending sequence of Mn > Cu > Ni > Zn >Pb > Cr > Cd and Zn > Cr > Ni > Mn > Cu > Pb > Cd in grains and vegetables respectively. Moreover, Cd was observed beyond its safe limits in 90 % of all samples. Also, the Pb noted above its safe limits by FAO, 2001 but in limits set by SEPA, 2005. Moreover, the Chronic Daily Intake (CDI) of heavy metals by grains (3.48E-03) was enough higher than that of vegetables (1.84E-03). Additionally, the children were found more vulnerable to metal toxicity as they were recorded with a higher CDI of 2.80E-03 as compared to that of adults’ CDI of 1.86E-03.

Also, the potential threats to the residents (adults and children) were noted as Zn > Cr > Mn > Cu > Ni > Pb > Cd and Zn > Cr > Cu > Ni > Mn > Pb > Cd respectively. In the end, the accumulative Hazard Index (HI) via the ingestion of selected food items was also measured. The combined Health Risk Indexes (HRIs) of each metal were obtained as Cd > Pb > Ni > Cu > Mn > Zn > Cr. With HI of grains (29.5%) and vegetables (28.6%). The cumulative HI value was valued as 4.46E+00 which is far greater than 1 indicating that although the individual HRI values were < 1 but the combined influence of all the selected heavy metals may probably induce serious health risks in people of the area.

Abstract 162 | PDF Downloads 75


1. Amin, N., Hussain, A., Alamzeb, S., Begum, S., 2013. Accumulation of heavy metals inedible parts of vegetables irrigated with waste water and their daily intake to adults and children, District Mardan, Pakistan. Food Chemistry, 136(3-4): 1515-1523.
2. Arora, M., Kiran, B., Rani, S., Rani, A., Kaur, B., Mittal, N., 2008. Heavy metal accumulation in vegetables irrigated with water from different sources. Food Chemistry, 111(4): 811-815.
3. Bundschuh, J., Nath, B., Bhattacharya, P., Liu, C.W., Armienta, M.A., López, M.V.M., Lopez, D.L., Jean, J.S., Cornejo, L., Macedo, L.F.L., Filho, A.T., 2012. Arsenic in the human foodchain: the Latin American perspective. Sci. Total Environ. 429, 92-106.
4. Cao, S., Duan, X., Zhao, X., Ma, J., Dong, T., Huang, N., Sun, C., He, B., Wei, F., 2014. Health risks from the exposure of children to As, Se, Pb and other heavy metals near the largest coking plant in China. Science of the Total Environment 472, 1001-1009.
5. Cui, Y.J., Zhu, Y.G., Zhai, R., Huang, Y., Qiu, Y., Liang, J., 2005. Exposure to metal mixtures and human health impacts in a contaminated area in Nanning, China. Environment International 31, 784-790.
6. Huang, X., Sillanpaa, M., Duo, B., Gjessing, E.T., 2008. Water quality in the Tibetan Plateau: Metal contents of four selected rivers. Environmental Pollution, 156(2): 270-277.
7. Islam, M.S., Ahmed,M.K., Al-mamun,M.H., Masunaga,S., 2014a. Trace metals in soil and vegetables and associated health risk assessment. Environ. Monit. Assess. 186, 8727-8739.
8. Islam, M.S., Ahmed, M.K., Al-Mamun, M.H., Raknuzzaman, M., 2015. The concentration, source and potential human health risk of heavy metals in the commonly consumed foods in Bangladesh. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 122, 462–469.
9. Jan, F.A., Ishaq, M., Khan, S., Ihsanullah, I., Ahmad, I., Shakirullah, M., 2010b. A comparative study of human health risks via consumption of food crops grown on wastewater irrigated soil (Peshawar) and relatively clean water irrigated soil (Lower Dir). Journal of Hazardous Materials, 179(1-3): 612-621.
10. Jan, F.A., Ishaq, M., Khan, S., Shakirullah, M., Asim, S.M., Ahmad, I., Mabiid, F., 2011. Bioaccumulation of metals in human blood in industrially contaminated area. Journal of Environmental Sciences, 23(12): 2069-2077.
11. Khan, K., Lu, Y., Khan, H., Ishtiaq, M., Khan, S., Waqas, M., Wei, L., Wang, T., 2013. Heavy metals in agricultural soils and crops and their health risks in Swat District, northern Pakistan. Food and Chemical Toxicology 58, 449–458.
12. Khan, K., Khan, H., Lu, Y., Ihsanullah, I., Nawab, J., Khan, S., Shah, N.S., Shamshad, I., Maryam, A., 2014. Evaluation of toxicological risk of foodstuffs contaminated with heavy metals in Swat, Pakistan. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 108, 224–232.
13. Khan, S., Cao, Q., Zheng, Y.M., Huang, Y.Z., Zhu, Y.Z., 2008. Health risks of heavy metals in contaminated soils and food crops irrigated with wastewater in Beijing, China. Environmental Pollution 152, 686-692.
14. Khan, S., Rehman, S., Khan, A.Z., Khan, A., Shah, M.T., 2010. Soil and vegetables enrichment with heavy metals from geological sources in Gilgit, northern Pakistan. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 73, 1820-1827.
15. Khan, S., Cao, Q., Zheng, Y.M., Huang, Y.Z., Zhu, Y.Z., 2008. Health risks of heavy metals in contaminated soils and food crops irrigated with wastewater in Beijing, China. Environmental Pollution 152, 686-692.
16. Krishna, A.K., Satyanarayanan, M., Govil, P.K., 2009. Assessment of heavy metal pollution in water using multivariate statistical techniques in an industrial area: A case study from Patancheru, Medak District, Andhra Pradesh India. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 167 (13): 366-373.
17. Kumar, M., Rahman, M.M., Ramanathan, A., Naidu, R., 2016. Arsenic and other elements in drinking water and dietary components from the middle Gangetic plain of Bihar, India: Health risk index. Science of the Total Environment 539, 125–134.
18. Mohammad.A.A, A. Zarei, M. Esmaeilzadeh, M. Taghvi, M. Yousefi, Z. Yousefi, F. Sedighi, S., 2019. Javan. Assessment of Heavy Metal Pollution and Human Health Risks Assessment in Soils Around an Industrial Zone in Neyshabur, Iran. Biological Trace Element Research
19. Muhammad, S., Shah, M.T., Khan, S., 2011b. Heavy metal concentrations in soil and wild plants growing around Pb–Zn sulfide terrain in the Kohistan region, northern Pakistan. Microchemical Journal, 99(1): 67-75.
20. Nawab, J., Li, G., Khan, S., Sher, H., Aamir, M., Shamshad, I., Khan, A., Khan, M.A., 2016. Health risk assessment from contaminated foodstuffs: a field study in chromite mining affected areas northern Pakistan. Environ Sci Pollut Res, DOI 10.1007/s11356-016-63799.
21. Pasha Q, Malik S A, Shaheen N, Shah M H, 2010. Investigation of trace metals in the blood plasma and scalp hair of gastrointestinal cancer patients in comparison with controls. Clinica Chimica Acta, 411(7-8): 531–539.
22. Radwan, M.A., Salama, A.K., 2006. Market basket survey for some heavy metals in Egyptian fruits and vegetables. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 44 (8), 1273–1278.
23. Rehman, M.Z., Rizwan, M., Ali, S., Ok, Y.S., Ishaque, W., Saifullah., Nawaz, M.F., Akmal, F., Waqar, M., 2017. Remediation of heavy metal contaminated soils by using Solanum nigrum: A review. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 143, 236–248.
24. Rezapour et al., 2019. Heavy metal bioavailability and accumulation in winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) irrigated with treated wastewater in calcareous soils. Sci. Total Environ. (2019).
25. Roychowdhury, T., Tokunaga, H., Ando, M., 2003. Survey of arsenic and other heavy metals in food composites and drinking water and estimation of dietary intake by the villagers from an arsenic-affected area of West Bengal, India. Science of Total Environment.108(1–3), 15–35.
26. Sekomo, C.B., Nkurang, E., Rousseau, D.P., Lens, P.N., 2011. Fate of heavy metals in an urban natural wetland: The Nyabugogo Swamp (Rwanda). Water, Air and Soil Pollution. 214, 321–333.
27. Shaheen, N., Irfan, N.M., Khan, I.N., Islam, S., Islam, M.S., Ahmed, M.K., 2016. Presence of heavy metals in fruits and vegetables: Health risk implications in Bangladesh. Chemosphere 152, 431-438.
28. Shah, M.T., Tariq, S., 2007. Environmental geochemistry of the soils of Peshawar basin, N-W.F.P. Pakistan. Jour. Chem. Sos. Pak. Vol. 29, No. 5, 438-445.
29. Shah M T, Begum S, Khan S, 2010. Pedo and biogeochemical studies of mafic and ultramfic rocks in the Mingora and Kabal areas, Swat, Pakistan. Environmental Earth Sciences, 60(5): 1091–1102.
30. Shah, M.T., Ara, J., Muhammad, S., Khan, S., Tariq, S., 2012. Health risk assessment via surface water and sub-surface water consumption in the mafic and ultramafic terrain, Mohmand agency, northern Pakistan. Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 118: 60–67.
31. Turkdogan, M.K., Fevzi, K., Kazim, K., Ilyas, T., Ismail, U., 2003. Heavy metals in soil, vegetables and fruits in the endemic upper gastrointestinal cancer region of Turkey. Environ. Toxic. Pharm. 13, 175–179.
32. WHO/FAO, 2011. Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality Fourth Edition, World Health Organization, ISBN 978 92 4 154815 1.
33. Yang, Q.W., Xu, Y., Liu, S. J., He, J. F., & Long, F. Y. (2011). Concentration and potential health risk of heavy metals in market vegetables in Chongqing, China. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 74(6): 1664-1669.
34. Zheng, N., Wang, Q., & Zheng, D., 2007. Health risk of Hg, Pb, Cd, Zn, and Cu to the inhabitants around Huludao Zinc Plant in China via consumption of vegetables. Science of the Total Environment, 383(1–3): 81–89.