Pollution of Heavy Metals in Some Farms of Torbat-E Jam, Khorasan Razavi Province, Iran

Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 Department of Agronomy and Plant Breeding, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Birjand, P.O.Box: 9719113944, Birjand, Iran

2 Department of Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Birjand, P.O.Box: 9719113944, Birjand, Iran


Agricultural intensification is associated with the use of great amounts of agrochemicals that may result in the accumulation of metals in soils, and –subsequently—agricultural products and food chain. Nowadays, this is a major concern for many Iranian agricultural products, necessitating scientific researches on the issue. Therefore, the present study has been conducted to evaluate the level of metal contamination in some agricultural products of Torbat-e Jam, Iran, with the following purposes: (i) to determine concentrations of cadmium (Cd), nickel (Ni), and lead (Pb) in melon (Cucumis melo var. inodorus), sugar beet (Beta vulgaris), and maize (Zea mays) as well as water and soils of some farms in Torbat-e Jam, Iran; and (ii) to examine chemical fertilizers as a possible source of heavy metals' contamination. To do so it has taken some samples from soils, irrigation waters, chemical fertilizers, and crops, measuring their heavy metals contents by means of atomic absorption spectrometry. Results show that heavy metals' concentrations in groundwater and soil were lower than the adopted global standards. Among fertilizers, only Cd content of triple-superphosphate was higher than the standards, leading to a substantial buildup of Cd in the soil, compared to Pb. The greater use of potassium fertilizer has increased Pb concentration in the soil samples of maize farms during the growing season. Among all elements, Pb had the greatest transfer coefficient. It seems that current farm management practices as well as excessive use of chemical fertilizers may further the contamination and loss of soil quality in agricultural systems of the region.


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