A systematic risk characterization related to the dietary exposure of the population to potentially toxic elements through the ingestion of fruit and vegetables from a potentially contaminated area. A case study: The issue of the “Land of Fires” area in Campania region, Italy

Francesco Esposito, Antonio Nardone, Evelina Fasano, Gelsomina Scognamiglio, Daniela Esposito, Diana Agrelli, Lucia Ottaiano, Massimo Fagnano, Paola Adamo, Eleonora Beccaloni, Fabiana Vanni, Teresa Cirillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Potentially toxic elements are widespread soil contaminants, whose occurrence could entail a concern for human health upon ingestion of fruit and vegetables harvested in a polluted area. This work set out to evaluate the concentrations of lead and cadmium as well as the levels of thirteen heavy metals for which a limit value is yet to be established by the food safety authorities, in order to perform a risk characterization related to the dietary intake of these metals and to provide a scientific opinion with wider relevance in the light of current worldwide regulatory issues. The sampling consisted of fruit and vegetables grown in a potentially contaminated area of southern Italy due to the illegal dump of hazardous wastes. An evaluation of the dietary exposure through the calculation of the Hazard Index (HI), the Maximum Cumulative Ratio (MCR) and the Target Cancer Risk (TCR) was adopted to this end. The results revealed that about the 30% of samples showed quantifiable levels of chemicals and no significant difference emerged between the potentially polluted area and the nearby cities that were selected as a control landfill site. The overall risk characterization for non-carcinogenic endpoints showed that the HI did not reach unsafe values, except for a small number of samples mainly because of aberrant occurrences and, in any case, the cumulative toxicity was mainly driven by thallium and vanadium. As far as the carcinogenic effects of arsenic are concerned, the distribution of TCR values broadly lay below the safety threshold; a certain percentage of data, however, exceeded this limit and should be taken into account for the enforcement of future regulatory thresholds. An approach based on the analysis of Maximum Cumulative Effect and of the Total Hazard Quotients was proposed to tackle an important environmental pollution issue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1781-1790
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2018

Keywords

  • Agroecosystem pollution
  • Anthropogenic pollution
  • Heavy metals
  • Human health
  • Maximum cumulative ratio
  • Risk assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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