Metal-contaminated potato crops and potential human health risk in Bolivian mining highlands

Alan E. Garrido, William H.J. Strosnider, Robin Taylor Wilson, Janette Condori, Robert W. Nairn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study assessed metals in irrigation water, soil and potato crops impacted by mining discharges, as well as potential human health risk in the high desert near the historic mining center of Potosí, Bolivia. Metal concentrations were compared with international concentration limit guidelines. In addition, an ingested average daily dose and minimum risk level were used to determine the hazard quotient from potato consumption for adults and children. Irrigation water maximum concentrations of Cd, Pb and Zn in mining-impacted sites were elevated 20- to 1100-fold above international concentration limit guidelines. Agricultural soils contained total metal concentrations of As, Cd, Pb and Zn that exceeded concentration limits in agricultural soil guidelines by 22-, 9-, 3- and 12-fold, respectively. Potato tubers in mining-impacted sites had maximum concentrations of As, Cd, Pb and Zn that exceeded concentration limits in commercially sold vegetables by 9-, 10-, 16- and fourfold, respectively. Using conservative assumptions, hazard quotients (HQ) for potatoes alone were elevated for As, Cd and Pb among children (range 1.1–71.8), in nearly all of the mining-impacted areas; and for As and Cd among adults (range 1.2–34.2) in nearly all of the mining-impacted areas. Only one mining-impacted area had a Pb adult HQ for potatoes above 1 for adults. Toxic trace elements in a major regional dietary staple may be a greater concern than previously appreciated. Considering the multitude of other metal exposure routes in this region, it is likely that total HQ values for these metals may be substantially higher than our estimates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)681-700
Number of pages20
JournalEnvironmental Geochemistry and Health
Volume39
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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