Heavy metals and potential health risk assessment of Lactuca sativa and Daucus carrota from soil treated with organic manures and chemical fertilizer

O. E. Aina*, L. L. Mugivhisa, J. O. Olowoyo, C. L. Obi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The large-scale production of food crops with heavy application of chemical fertilizers in the effort to meet the astronomical increase in food demands may be counterproductive to the goal of food security. This study investigated the effect of different soil treatments on the levels of heavy metals (Cr, Cu, Fe, Ni, Pb, and Zn) in two types of vegetables Lactuca sativa (lettuce) and Daucus carrota (carrot). The potential carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic health risks from their consumption were also evaluated. Planting experiment was set up in a randomized block design, with different soil treatments of soil + cow dung (CD), soil + sewage sludge (SS), soil + chemical fertilizer (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (NPK)), and untreated soil (UNTRD). The vegetables were harvested at maturity, washed with distilled water, and subjected to an acid digestion process before the levels of heavy metals were measured by inductively coupled plasma spectrometry (ICP-MS). The mean concentrations of the metals in the vegetables across all treatments were below the maximum permissible limits. The pattern of heavy metal accumulation by the vegetables suggested that the lettuce from SS treatment accumulated higher concentrations of heavy metals like Cr (0.20 mg/kg), Cu (3.91 mg/kg), Ni (0.33 mg/kg), and Zn (20.44 mg/kg) than carrot, with highest concentrations of Fe (90.89 mg/kg) and Pb (0.16 mg/kg) recorded in lettuce from NPK treatment. The bioaccumulation factor (BAF) showed that lettuce, a leafy vegetable, has bioaccumulated more heavy metals than carrot, a root vegetable. The BAF was generally below the threshold value of 1 in both vegetables, except in lettuce from NPK and CD treatments and carrot from NPK treatments, with BAF values of 1.6, 1.69, and 1.39, respectively. The cancer risk assessment factors were well below the unacceptable maximum range of 10−4 suggesting that consuming these vegetables might not expose an individual to potential risk of cancer development. The hazard quotient estimations were below the threshold values of 1 for all heavy metals; however, the hazard index (HI) values of 1.27 and 1.58 for lettuce from NPK and SS treatments indicate a potential non-carcinogenic health risk to consumers from intake of all the heavy metals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number538
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024


  • Accumulator
  • Carcinogenic
  • Excluder
  • Non-carcinogenic
  • Soil management


Dive into the research topics of 'Heavy metals and potential health risk assessment of Lactuca sativa and Daucus carrota from soil treated with organic manures and chemical fertilizer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this