Assessment of heavy metals (total chromium, lead, and manganese) contamination of residential soil and homegrown vegetables near a former chemical manufacturing facility in Tarnaveni, Romania

  • Razvan G. Mihaileanu
  • Iulia A. NeamtiuEmail author
  • Molly Fleming
  • Cristian Pop
  • Michael S. Bloom
  • Carmen Roba
  • Mihai Surcel
  • Florin Stamatian
  • Eugen Gurzau


Our aim was to assess local population exposure to heavy metals resulting from soil and vegetable contamination in Tarnaveni, Romania, an area located near a former chemical factory. We collected residential soil and vegetable samples from Tarnaveni and measured chromium (Cr), lead (Pb), and manganese (Mn) levels by atomic absorption spectrometry. We evaluated the relationship between soil and vegetable metals and the distance from the shuttered chemical factory, and calculated the hazard index to assess local population metal exposure via contaminated vegetable ingestion. Soil metal concentrations ranged between 15.6 and 525.8 mg/kg for total Cr, between 25.4 and 559.5 mg/kg for Pb, and between 363.1 and 1389.6 mg/kg for Mn. We found average concentrations of 17.8 mg/kg for total Cr, 2.2 mg/kg for Pb, and 116.6 mg/kg for Mn in local vegetables. We found soil concentrations for all three metals that exceeded normal background levels according to Romanian regulations (Pb exceeded 100 mg/kg in some of the samples), as well as measurable concentrations of metals in all analyzed vegetable samples. These preliminary data underscore a need for a more extensive investigation into associated adverse health effects in the exposed population.


Industry Environmental pollution Community exposure Romania 


Funding information

The financial support for this research was provided by “Iuliu Hatieganu” University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Cluj-Napoca (grant no. 7690/71/15.04.2016). The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. The authors alone are responsible for the content and writing of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Razvan G. Mihaileanu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Iulia A. Neamtiu
    • 2
    • 4
    • 5
    Email author
  • Molly Fleming
    • 6
  • Cristian Pop
    • 5
    • 7
    • 8
  • Michael S. Bloom
    • 6
    • 9
  • Carmen Roba
    • 5
  • Mihai Surcel
    • 1
  • Florin Stamatian
    • 1
    • 2
  • Eugen Gurzau
    • 4
    • 7
  1. 1.1st Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology“Iuliu Hatieganu” University of Medicine and PharmacyCluj-NapocaRomania
  2. 2.IMOGEN Research InstituteCluj-NapocaRomania
  3. 3.Municipal Hospital “Dr. Gheorghe Marinescu”TarnaveniRomania
  4. 4.Department of HealthEnvironmental Health CenterCluj-NapocaRomania
  5. 5.Faculty of Environmental Science and EngineeringBabes-Bolyai UniversityCluj-NapocaRomania
  6. 6.Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsUniversity at Albany, State University of New YorkRensselaerUSA
  7. 7.Cluj School of Public Health, College of Political, Administrative and Communication SciencesBabes-Bolyai UniversityCluj-NapocaRomania
  8. 8.Physico-chemical and Biotoxicological Analysis LaboratoryEnvironmental Health CenterCluj-NapocaRomania
  9. 9.Department of Environmental Health SciencesUniversity at Albany, State University of New YorkRensselaerUSA

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