Assessment of health and ecological risks of heavy metal contamination: a case study of agricultural soils in Thall, Dir-Kohistan

Irshad Ullah, Allah Ditta, Muhammad Imtiaz, Sajid Mehmood, Muhammad Shahid Rizwan, Muhammad Shahid Rizwan, Amin Ullah Jan, Iftikhar Ahmad

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14 Citations (Web of Science)


Heavy metal (HM) contamination in agricultural soils has been a significant health concern worldwide due to their persistent and non-biodegradable nature and biomagnification to higher trophic levels. The present study was conducted to assess Cd and Pb concentrations in soil samples collected from potato-growing areas in Thall, Dir-Kohistan, and to determine their associated health and ecological risks. The contamination factor calculated for Cd (0 to 1.74) and Pb (0 to 0.91) showed their moderate to low contamination in the study area. Geo-accumulation indices of Cd and Pb were less than 1, indicating moderate soil pollution of these HM in the study area. However, the ecological risk factor (Eri) of Cd was greater than 40 for only three soil samples, indicating the moderate potential of ecological risks of respective soils. The principal component analysis (PCA) and Pearson correlation suggested that the contamination in different soils was lithogenic followed by anthropogenic activities. The hazard quotient (HQ) in children and adults was found in the following order: dermal > ingestion > inhalation. Moreover, the values of HQ through various exposure routes were higher in children compared to adults, which showed that adults were at a lower level of risk associated with HM contamination. The results of the present study can serve as baseline data for government agencies related to environmental protection, which could devise policies to minimize Cd and Pb contamination in the agricultural soils.

Original languageEnglish
Article number786
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


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