Health Risk Assessment of Consumption of Heavy Metals in Market Food Crops from Sialkot and Gujranwala Districts, Pakistan

<div><p>ABSTRACT</p><p>This study was performed to investigate the potential health risk of heavy metals (HMs) through consumption of market food crops (MFCs) in the Sialkot and Gujranwala districts, Pakistan. Both study areas are located in industrialized regions of the country, where atmospheric pollution is a problem and irrigation of food crops is mostly practiced on the use of wastewater/contaminated water. For the purpose of this study, MFCs samples were collected and assessed for HMs (Cr, Ni, Cd, Pb, Mn, Cu, Zn, and Fe) by using flame atomic absorption spectrophotometry. Concentration of HMs such as Pb and Cd exceeded the Food and Agriculture/World Health Organization's recommended limits in all MFCs, while Cr in most of the vegetables of the Sialkot and Gujranwala districts also exceeded that limit. The health risk index was >1 in <i>Triticum aestivum</i> for Pb and Cd intake in the Sialkot district and only Pb in the Gujranwala district. Therefore, this study suggests pretreatment of wastewater and its utilization for lawns and green belts irrigation, rather than for food crops. This study also suggests a regular monitoring of HMs in the irrigation water, subsequent soil, air, and MFCs in order to prevent or reduce health hazards.</p></div>