Contamination status and health risk assessment of trace elements in foodstuffs collected from the Buriganga River embankments, Dhaka, Bangladesh
© Khan et al.; licensee Springer. 2014
Received: 26 December 2013
Accepted: 7 April 2014
Published: 29 July 2014
Unsafe food consumption is a severe problem because of heavy metal contamination, which is caused by director indirect activities of industries. The present study was conducted to assess the risk of human health by Heavy metals (Cu, Co, Fe, Zn and Mn) through the intake of vegetables and fishes obtained from the area adjacent to the Hazaribag tannery campus, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The trend of mean metal concentration in Buriganga river water was Fe >Mn > Zn > Cu > Co and according to Department of Environment, Dhaka Bangladesh (DoE) (1999) the value of the above metals are within the permissible limit of irrigation water except Fe. An assessment of risk involved due to consumption of contaminated food also calculated. The trend of metals in vegetables was Fe > Mn > Zn > Cu > Co and in fishes the trend was Fe > Zn >Mn > Co > Cu. Accumulation of trace elements in vegetables was lower than maximum tolerable levels proposed by FAO/WHO food standard programme (2001) with the exception of Fe and Co respectively. In fishes metal concentration was lower than safe limit set by WHO (1989) except Mn. The Metal Pollution Index (MPI) for all the foodstuffs showed a higher value, however the calculated Health Risk Index (HRI) indicated no risk to human health upon consumption of those foodstuffs.
The overall study suggests that foodstuff in the area were contaminated by the assayed metals and long-term consumption can cause potential health risks to consumers.
Rapid development, growing populations, as well as increasing urbanization and food demand in Southeast Asia combined with the use of polluted waters for pre-urban food constitute a potential food safety risk. The knowledge of dietary intake of essential and toxic elements in Southeast Asian countries such as Bangladesh is limited. The poisoning effects of heavy metals are due to their interference with normal body biochemistry in normal metabolic process (Okunola et al. ). Heavy metals are classified in two main categories i.e. essential and toxic heavy metals. Essential heavy metals (Cu, Co, Zn, Fe, Ca, Mg, Se, Ni and Mn) are required in very trace quantities for the proper functioning of enzyme systems, hemoglobin formation and vitamin synthesis in human but metabolic disturbances are encountered in case of excess of these essential metals (Hina et al. ). In recent time, the rapid and exponential industrial growth in Bangladesh caused increased production of waste, which witnessed in Hazaribag industrial area located towards southwestern Dhaka. In Hazaribag area, there are about 277 tannery industries, 15 dying, 3 salt industries, 1 pharmaceutical industry, 1 soap factory, 2 match factories and 2 lead-zinc industries. Buriganga River, which is the major sources of water supply for agricultural, livestock and fishing activities (Azom et al. ), is contaminated by the wastes discharged from these industries as it contains a bulk amount of liquid and solid wastes with substantial quantities of heavy metals: Zn, Cu, Co, Fe, Mn, Ca, Ni, Mg, Se etc. The contamination of river allows these pollutants to accumulate in common fish species by biomagnifications, which are used as local food sources (Azom et al. ). Long-term use of wastewater in irrigation affect food quality thus safety (Muchuweti et al.  and Sharma et al. ). Plants growing in nearby zone of industrial areas display increased concentration of heavy metals serving in many cases as bio-monitors of pollution loads (Mingorance et al. ). Vegetables cultivated in soil polluted by toxic heavy metals due to industrial activities take up heavy metals and accumulated them in their edible and non-edible parts.
Heavy metal pollution is of significant ecological or environmental concern because they are not easily biodegradable or metabolized thus precipitating far-reaching effects on the biological system such as human, animals, plants and other soil biota (Yoon ). Food chain contamination is the major pathway of heavy metal exposure for humans (Khan et al. ). In the present study area there are more than 0.2 million people and 20,000 people are directly exposed to the hazards (Asaduzzaman et al. ) and rest of people are affected by Dietary intake which is the main route of exposure of heavy metals for most people (Tripathi et al. ). Thus, information about heavy metal concentration in food products and their dietary intake is very important for assessing their risk to human health (Zhuang et al. ). The present study aimed to assess the contamination status of trace elements in water, vegetables and fishes of the adjacent area of the Hazaribag and embank of Buriganga River, Dhaka. The concentrations of trace elements in water, vegetables and fishes were compared with the established safe limit and the value of intake metals in human diet was calculated to estimate the risk to human health.
Collection and preparation of samples
Water, vegetables viz., Stem Amaranth (Amaranthus lividus), Radish (Raphanus sativus), Spinach (Spinacia oleracea); fishes viz., Tatina (Cirrhinus reba), Spotted snakehead (Channa punctate), MozambiqueTalipia (Oreochromis mossambicus) were randomly collected in triplicate from different location of the study area during the period of February to March 2013. The samples were tagged and carried in the laboratory.
Preparation of water sample
For Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence (EDXRF) measurement of elements, the preparation of water samples involved the absorption of a certain amount of the sample on weighed amount of dry analar grade Whatman cellulose powder. A volume of 500 ml of each collected water sample filtered with Whatman 41 filter paper was taken in a clean weighed porcelain dish followed by addition of 4 gm of cellulose powder and evaporated on water bath. The sample after evaporation to dry mass was further dried under IR lamp at about 70°C for two hours to remove the trace of moisture and weighed. For homogeneous mixing, the dry mass was then transferred to a carbide mortar and ground to fine powder using a pestle. The processed sample in a plastic vial with identification mark was preserved inside a desiccator.
Preparation of plant and fish samples
The plant samples were cut into suitable pieces with a stainless steel knife, washed first with tap water, and rinsed with deionized water three times. The inedible parts of all fish samples were removed with a stainless steel knife. The remaining edible part of the samples were washed with tap water and then rinsed with deionized water three times. All plant and fish samples were then taken on porcelain dishes separately. Each dish with the particular sample was marked by an identification number and placed in an oven at around 70°C for overnight drying which was continued until a constant weight was obtained. The dried mass of each sample was then transferred to a carbide mortar and ground to fine powder using a pestle and preserved in a plastic vial with identification mark inside a desiccator.
Analysis of samples
The Panalytical Epsilon 5 Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence (EDXRF) (model: Epsilon 5, made in Netherland) was used as major analytical technique for carrying out elemental analysis in the samples. For irradiation of the sample with X-ray beam 2 g of each powdered material was pressed into a pellet of 25 mm diameter with a pellet maker (CARVER, model: 3889-4NE1, U.S.A.) and loaded into the X-ray excitation chamber with the help of automatic sample changer system. The irradiation of all real samples was performed by assigning a time-based programme, controlled by a software package provided with the system. The standard materials were also irradiated under similar experimental conditions for construction of the calibration curves for quantitative elemental determination in the respective samples. The generated X-ray spectra of the materials were stored into the computer. The X-ray intensities of the elements in sample spectrum were calculated using the system software by integration of area of the respective X-ray peak areas using peak fitting deconvolution software.
Concentration calibration and method validation
Comparison between present results and the certified values of standard reference materials (mg kg −1 )
To assess the contamination level of heavy metals, mean, median, minimum, maximum, and standard deviation of water, fish and vegetable samples were performed using Microsoft Excel (version 2007).
Metal Pollution Index (MPI)
Where Cfn = concentration of metal in n in the sample.
Health Risk Index (HRI)
Where, Cmetal, Dfood intake, and Baverage weight represent the heavy metal concentrations in foodstuff (μg g−1), daily intake of foodstuff and average body weight, respectively. According to the food consumption, survey by Alam et al. () and Kennedy et al. (), Bangladeshi people per person per day consumes vegetable: 130 g and fish: 24 g The average body weight (Baverage weight) was taken as 70 kg for adults according to WHO .
Result and discussions
Heavy metal concentration in Buriganga river water
Heavy metal concentration (mg/l) in Buriganga river water
Heavy metal concentration in vegetables
Heavy metal concentration (mg/kg dry weight) in vegetables grown in and around Hazaribag tannery industrial region, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Stem Amaranth (n = 13)
Radish (n = 10)
Spinach (n = 8)
Heavy metal concentration in fishes
Heavy metal concentration (mg/kg) in Fishes cultured nearby the area of tannery complex in the river Buriganga
Spotted snakehead (n = 9)
Tatina (n = 9)
MozambiqueTalipia (n = 9)
Metal pollution index
Health risk assessment
Health risk index (HRI) of heavy metals via intake if foodstuffs from the adjacent area of Hazaribag
Irrigation of agricultural land and fish culturing with treated and untreated wastewater led to the accumulation of heavy metals in vegetables and fishes. Variations in the heavy metal concentrations in the studied vegetables and fishes reflect the difference in uptake capabilities and their further translocation to the edible portion of plants and fishes. The mean concentration of heavy metals in water was lower than the safe limit except Fe and Mn. All the vegetables containing heavy metals lower than recommended tolerable levels proposed by FAO/WHO () except Fe and Co and for fishes it is lower than the permissible level set by WHO () except Mn. The metal pollution index, for all varieties of vegetables and fishes are quite high. Consumption of foodstuff with elevated levels of heavy metals may lead to high level of accumulation in the body causing different disease like thalassemia, dermatitis, brain and kidney damage and cancer.
The level of heavy metals (HMs) found in different sources in the present study was compared with the prescribed safe limit provided by WHO () and (), WHO (Pescod ), World average value (2000). In the present study fish and vegetable samples from uncontaminated area were not analysed but concentrations of metal in fish and vegetables found are compared with the results of different similar studies carried out all over the world and also with the safe limit suggested by different organization. Among five heavy metals studied in vegetables and fishes, concentration of Fe was maximum. The MPI (metal pollution index) value for Spinach was very high compared to other vegetables analysed and suggested to take less amount in diet of local people. Health risk index (HIR) for all HMs were less than 1, which is may be due to the high level of allowable oral reference dose of the respective metal and this indicate no risk. The study suggests that as there is high concentration of heavy metals in water, its long term use caused heavy metal contamination leading to health risk of consumers. Thus, regular monitoring of these toxic heavy metals in water, vegetables and fishes is essential to prevent their excessive build up in food chain.
Highly appreciate the association and cooperation of the stuff member of Chemistry division, Atomic energy centre, Dhaka and Department of food Engineering & Tea Technology, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet.
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