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An assessment of health risks associated with arsenic exposure via consumption of homegrown vegetables near contaminated glassworks sites

Journal article
Authors T. E. Uddh-Soderberg
S. J. Gunnarsson
Johan Hogmalm
M Lindegard
A. L. M. Augustsson
Published in Science of the Total Environment
Volume 536
Pages 189-197
ISSN 0048-9697
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 189-197
Language en
Keywords Health risk assessment, Arsenic, Homegrown vegetables, Bioconcentration factor, Probabilistic, heavy-metal contamination, home garden vegetables, dietary-intake, west-bengal, industrialized area, antimony mine, rural village, mining, area, soils, speciation, Environmental Sciences & Ecology
Subject categories Clinical Medicine, Earth and Related Environmental Sciences


The health risk posed by arsenic in vegetables grown in private gardens near 22 contaminated glassworks sites was investigated in this study. Firstly, vegetable (lettuce and potato) and soil samples were collected and arsenic concentrations measured to characterize the arsenic uptake in the selected crops. Secondly, a probabilistic exposure assessment was conducted to estimate the average daily intake (ADI(veg)), which was then evaluated against toxicological reference values by the calculation of hazard quotients (HQs) and cancer risks (CRs). The results show that elevated arsenic concentrations in residential garden soils are mirrored by elevated concentrations in vegetables, and that consumption of these vegetables alone may result in an unacceptable cancer risk; the calculated reasonable maximum exposure, for example, corresponded to a cancer incidence 20 times higher than the stated tolerance limit. However, the characterization of risk depends to a great extent on which toxicological reference value is used for comparison, as well as how the exposure is determined. Based on the assumptions made in the present study, the threshold levels for chronic non-carcinogenic or acute effects were not exceeded, but the cancer risks indicated highlight the need for further exposure studies, as dietary intake involves more than just homegrown vegetables and total exposure is a function of more than just one exposure pathway. In addition, glassworks sites - and contaminated sites in general - contain multiple contaminants, affecting the final and total risk.

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