Ten-year regional monitoring of soil-rice grain contamination by heavy metals with implications for target remediation and food safety

Mingjiang He, Haoran Shen, Zhangtao Li, Lu Wang, Fan Wang, Keli Zhao, Xingmei Liu, Ole Wendroth, Jianming Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


Farmland soil heavy metal contamination could pose potential risks to ecosystems, food safety and human health ultimately. Regional researches on the long-term monitoring of heavy metals in a soil-rice grain system, changed with environmental policy adjustment, have been hindered by limited detailed data. In this study, we collected 169 paired paddy rice grain and corresponding soil samples from a former intensive electronic-waste dismantling region to survey the current status of heavy metal contamination, and to reveal the temporal trends over the past decade based on the previous data obtained in 2006 and 2011. Moderate contaminations of Cd, Cu, Zn and Ni were observed in soil currently. Furthermore, 20.7% of rice grain samples exceeded the Cd threshold value. Cd, Cu, Zn and Pb shared the similar spatial distribution pattern with higher concentrations in northwest, which were contrary to Cr, Ni and As. Risk assessment indicated that much attention is required for the carcinogenic risk of Cr, Cd and As and non-carcinogen risk of Cr. Combining the spatial distribution of heavy metals in soil and rice grains, and the potential ecological risks, with the human health risks, the middle-west rice paddies were identified and proposed as priority areas. Percentage of soil Pb, Cd and Zn decreased in most area and slightly increased in northwest and east. Cu decreased in southwest and increased in central part, while Ni slightly increased in the whole region between 2006 and 2016. With the scrutiny of strict environmental policy, Cd still remained relatively constant levels in soil and rice grains during the last decade, which confirmed that the heavy metals were persisted over the long duration. Target sustainable and ongoing green remediation methods should be adopted urgently in specific area to guarantee food safety and human health for local residents. Cadmium in a soil-rice grain system kept a constant level during the last decade and the middle-west was identified as a priority area based on the prediction of metal concentration, ecological risk and human health risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-439
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
StatePublished - Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Electronic waste
  • Food safety
  • Metal-contaminated soil
  • Target remediation
  • Temporal trend

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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