Monitoring and Modeling of Heavy Metals Contents in Vegetables Collected from Markets in Imo State, South-Eastern, Nigeria
Vegetable consumption is one major exposure route of heavy metal to humans, but few data exist for Imo State. We assessed the contamination levels and associated health risk of cadmium (Cd), cobalt (Co), copper (Cu), nickel (Ni), lead (Pb) and zinc (Zn) in vegetables (Telfairia occidentalis, Pterocarpus mildbraedii, Gongronenina latifolium and Vernonia amygdalina) that are consumed frequently from markets (n=16) in three zones of Imo State, Nigeria. After wet-digestion of samples, the supernatant were analyzed by using atomic absorption spectrophotometry. The mean concentrations in the four vegetables ranged from 0.006±0.003 mg/kg to 0.011±0.007 mg/kg for Cd, 0.064±0.012 mg/kg to 1.225±0.226 mg/kg for Co, 10.711±1.968 mg/kg to 25.088±13.975 mg/kg for Cu, 0.062±0.013 mg/kg to 0.307±0.210 mg/kg for Ni, 0.006±0.005 mg/kg to 0.012±0.002 mg/kg for Pb and 63.55±4.055 mg/kg to 104.126±24.080 mg/kg for Zn. Except for Zn, all heavy metals in the various vegetables were below the joint standard of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organisation (WHO). Although, overall heavy metal load was very low, Zn had the highest contamination factor in vegetables. Heavy metals concentrations in vegetables generally showed low to high variations and statistically different (p < 0.05). Average daily intake was below the provisional tolerance limit except for Zn. The individual hazard index of vegetables for both children and adults were below 1, indicating no potential risk to the public. Overall, heavy metals hazard index were below 1, indicating acceptable level of non-carcinogenic adverse health effect. However, potential multi-element contamination from ingestion is possible as revealed by the correlation profiling of heavy metals.