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Plants endure a variety of abiotic and biotic stresses, all of which cause major limitations to production. Among abiotic stressors, heavy metal contamination represents a global environmental problem endangering humans, animals, and plants. Exposure to heavy metals has been documented to induce changes in the expression of plant proteins. Proteins are macromolecules directly responsible for most biological processes in a living cell, while protein function is directly influenced by posttranslational modifications, which cannot be identified through genome studies. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct proteomic studies, which enable the elucidation of the presence and role of proteins under specific environmental conditions. This review attempts to present current knowledge on proteomic techniques developed with an aim to detect the response of plant to heavy metal stress. Significant contributions to a better understanding of the complex mechanisms of plant acclimation to metal stress are also discussed.

Heavy Metal and Bacterial Pollution of the Sava River in Serbia

The aim of this study was to establish microbial and heavy metal pollution of the Sava River at three locations close to industry and urban areas (Šabac, Obrenovac, Beograd) in Serbia. Heavy metal analysis included Cu, Zn, Pb, and Cd in the river water and sediment samples. Using the microbiological analysis we tried to establish the effectiveness of total coliforms, faecal coliforms and Escherichia coli in detecting pollution of surface waters. We found that E. coli levels steadily increased downstream from Šabac (location 1; 2100 MPN per 100 mL) to Belgrade (location 3; 10000 MPN per 100 mL). To prevent bacterial contamination, it is necessary to reduce the discharge of wastewater with faecal matters near highly populated towns. Heavy metal levels in sediments correlated with those in the river water. Fluctuations attributed mainly to anthropogenic sources were not high. These results point to acceptable anthropogenic contribution to heavy metal content in the Sava River and to low environmental risk.

Contaminants of Medicinal Herbs and Herbal Products

Medicinal plants have a long history of use in therapy throughout the world and still make an important part of traditional medicine. Thus, medicinal plants and herbal products must be safe for the patient (consumer). This review addresses biological contaminants (microbes and other organisms) and chemical contaminants (mycotoxins, toxic elements such as heavy metals, and pesticide residues) as major common contaminants of medicinal herbs and herbal products. To prevent and screen for contamination and ensure safety and conformity to quality standards, medicinal herbs and herbal products should be included in appropriate regulatory framework.

In Vitro Genotoxicity of Wastewaters from the Town of Settat, Morocco

In recent years, the town of Settat has seen a considerable industrial growth, which has resulted in increased environmental pollution. This includes pollution by household and industrial wastewaters, which are released into the Boumoussa River without any preliminary treatment. The river valley crosses the community of Mzamza 8 km to the north of the town. Years of drought forced members of the community to use this polluted ground water for irrigation and put themselves and the environment at risk.

The aim of this study was to determine the physicochemical and metal profile of Settat wastewaters and to assess their impact on the water table. The second objective was to investigate the genotoxic potential of wastewater on human peripheral blood lymphocytes in vitro, using the micronucleus test and cellular proliferation index.

This study demonstrated significant pollution of Boumoussa valley groundwater and of the local wells. Sampled water induced a clear increase in the frequency of micronucleated cells and a lower cell proliferation in human peripheral blood lymphocytes in vitro.

Effect of Copper on the Toxicity and Genotoxicity of Cadmium in Duckweed (Lemna Minor L.)

We investigated interactions between copper (in the concentrations of 2.5 μmol L-1 and 5 μmol L-1) and cadmium (5 μmol L-1) in common duckweed (Lemna minor L.) by exposing it to either metal or to their combinations for four or seven days. Their uptake increased with time, but it was lower in plants treated with combinations of metals than in plants treated with either metal given alone. In separate treatments, either metal increased malondialdehyde (MDA) level and catalase and peroxidase activity. Both induced DNA damage, but copper did it only after 7 days of treatment. On day 4, the combination of cadmium and 5 μmol L-1 copper additionally increased MDA as well as catalase and peroxidase activity. In contrast, on day 7, MDA dropped in plants treated with combinations of metals, and especially with 2.5 μmol L-1 copper plus cadmium. In these plants, catalase activity was higher than in copper treated plants. Peroxidase activity increased after treatment with cadmium and 2.5 μmol L-1 copper but decreased in plants treated with cadmium and 5 μmol L-1 copper. Compared to copper alone, combinations of metals enhanced DNA damage after 4 days of treatment but it dropped on day 7. In conclusion, either metal given alone was toxic/genotoxic and caused oxidative stress. On day 4 of combined treatment, the higher copper concentration was more toxic than either metal alone. In contrast, on day 7 of combined treatment, the lower copper concentration showed lower oxidative and DNA damage. These complex interactions can not be explained by simple antagonism and/or synergism. Further studies should go in that direction.

Chemical Profile of Plomin Bay Sediments

Granulometric, chemical, and leaching properties of sediments dredged in the Plomin Bay (Northern Adriatic Sea, Croatia) were investigated in order to asses the risk of remobilisation of heavy metals into the water column. In total 65 samples from 65 sampling sites were taken from different sediment depths within the bay. Analysis of variance confirmed the homogeneity of granulometric and elemental composition of the investigated sediment throughout its volume. Granulometric analysis showed that all samples corresponded to a pelitic fraction (<0.063 mm). Bulk elemental mass fractions in the sediments were similar to literature data on relatively unpolluted areas of the Adriatic Sea. High sedimentation rate caused by constant inflow of material from the Boljunčica River drainage may be responsible for low levels of heavy metals and negligible influence of fly and bottom ash from a nearby disposal site on the chemical composition of the sediments. In contact with sea water only 0.29 mg kg-1 of V, 0.04 mg kg-1 of Cr, 0.07 mg kg-1 of Ni, 0.33 mg kg-1 of Cu, 0.67 mg kg-1 of Zn and 0.06 mg kg-1 of Pb could be remobilised from sediment material into the water column. However, these values increased three to ten times in case of leaching with organic acids.

Boat Pressure Washing Wastewater Treatment with Calcium Oxide and/or Ferric Chloride

The aim of this study was to investigate the efficiency of (1) chemical precipitation by calcium oxide, (2) coagulation/flocculation by ferric chloride (FC), and (3) the combination these two methods in reducing the toxicity of wastewater generated by boat pressure washing. All three methods gave satisfactory results in the removal of colour, turbidity, Cr, Fe, Cu, Zn, and Pb. The concentrations of heavy metals were lowered below national limits with 1 g of CaO, 2.54 mg of Fe3+ in the form of FeCl3x6H2O, and the combination of 0.25 g of CaO and 5.08 mg of Fe3+ per 50 mL of wastewater. Both CaO (1.50 g per 50 mL of wastewater) and FC proved efficient, but their combination yielded a significantly better performance: 99.41 %, 100.00 %, 97.87 %, 99.09 %, 99.90 %, 99.46 % and 98.33 % for colour, turbidity, Cr, Fe, Cu, Zn, and Pb respectively. For colour, Cr, Cu, Zn, and Pb removal efficiencies increased in the following order: FC<CaO<CaO+FC, while this order for turbidity and Fe was as follows: CaO<FC<CaO+FC. As expected, all three methods increased the concentration of total dissolved solids in the final effluent. Our results suggest that the combined treatment of marina wastewaters with calcium oxide followed by ferric chloride is efficient, cost-effective, and user-friendly.


The aim of this study was to assess the effects of chronic combined exposure to low, environmental doses of Cd, Pb, and Mn on oxidative stress in the liver and heart of rats and on their liver function parameters. Male Wistar rats were divided randomly into eight groups. For nine months controls were receiving drinking water alone, whereas the exposed groups were receiving drinking water with Pb (0.2 mg L-1), Cd (1 mg L-1), and Mn (2 mg L-1) alone or in combinations. Malondialdehyde (MDA) significantly increased in both heart and liver of the animals after combined exposure to metals. Heart MDA correlated with blood Cd, Pb, and Mn and liver MDA with blood Cd. Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) activity and bilirubin concentration also increased significantly in the animal group exposed to all three metals and correlated positively with blood Cd, Pb, and Mn. Our study has confirmed the synergistic effect of the Cd, Mn, and Pb combination on the increase in heart MDA. A similar synergy was observed for Pb+Mn in the increase of serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activity as an indicator of liver function.

Human Health Risk Assessment Approach for Urban Park Development

A Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA) was undertaken for a proposed park development "River Landing", to be constructed along the north bank of the South Saskatchewan River in the City of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The purpose of the HHRA was to determine whether chemical constituents identified at the site, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), petroleum hydrocarbons (PHCs), and toxic and heavy metals, would adversely affect the health of construction workers and potential park users. Although more traditional remediation options were considered, the risk assessment approach was chosen since it represented the best available technology. The HHRA was undertaken using protocols and methodologies proposed and readily accepted by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME), Health Canada, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). Results of the risk assessment revealed that the magnitude and distribution of the chemicals at the site were such that extensive remediation was not required, and that the site could be developed without any significant restrictions on the proposed use. The assessment revealed that potential exposure to soil constituents would not result in adverse health risk to construction workers involved in park development or future park users.


The aim of this study was to investigate the protective effects of oestradiol (E2, 4 mg kg-1 b.w. i.p.) against cadmium-induced (Cd, 2 mg kg-1 b.w. i.p.) blood changes in rats. Cadmium induced a significant decline in haemoglobin, haematocrit, and total erythrocyte, lymphocyte, and thrombocyte count, whereas total leukocytes and granulocytes increased. A significant increase was also observed in serum cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, AST, and ALT activities, whereas total protein and albumin levels dropped significantly. Administration of E2 in combination with Cd alleviated most of these adverse effects. In terms of oxidative stress, Cd significantly increased oxygen-free radicals (O2 •- and H2O2) in neutrophils and lipid peroxidation in erythrocytes, whereas E2 treatment reversed these changes to control values. Acute Cd poisoning significantly lowered antioxidant enzyme (SOD and CAT) activity and the level of non-enzymatic antioxidants (GSH and vitamin E), while increasing in GSSG. Treatments with E2 reversed Cd-induced effects on the antioxidant defences and significantly lowered Cd-induced oxidative damage in erythrocytes. This study suggests that exogenous E2 effectively restores redox balance in rat erythrocytes and counters adverse haematological and biochemical effects of Cd poisoning. It also improves the antioxidant capacity of erythrocytes, acting in synergy with endogenous antioxidants.