Detection of heavy metals in common vegetables at Varaždin City Market, Croatia

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Abstract

The present study was aimed at the estimation of heavy metal content in vegetables sold at the city market of one of the densely populated Croatian cities, Varaždin, and to establish the relationship between their levels and possible sources of contamination. Twenty-eight samples of the most common diet vegetables (red and white potato, onion, carrot, common bean, lettuce, and cabbage) were randomly bought at the market in September and October 2013. Using the atomic absorption spectrometry method, concentrations of nine heavy metals (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Mn, Ni, Pb, and Zn) were measured in the selected samples. The results showed that, in five out of 28 samples analysed, six concentrations exceeded the maximum levels provided for in the regulations: five for Pb and one for Cd. Maximum regulated levels for Pb were exceeded in two samples of red potato, two samples of common bean, and one sample of carrot (17.9 %), and for Cd in a sample of red potato (3.6 %). In conclusion, the cause of the overstepping of the maximum levels for Pb and Cd in the vegetables analysed was most likely the contaminated soil. The possible sources of soil contamination include traffic, nearby industry, floodwaters of rivers and streams, and the use of pesticides and fertilisers in agricultural production.

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