Heavy metals and associated health risk of wheat grain in a traditional cultivation area of Baoji, Shaanxi, China

  • Wenxiao Yang
  • Dan Wang
  • Mengke Wang
  • Fei Zhou
  • Jie Huang
  • Mingyue Xue
  • Quang Toan Dinh
  • Dongli LiangEmail author


As a staple food for people worldwide, wheat is one of the major exposure pathways for heavy metals (HMs). Therefore, the safety of the wheat grain directly affects food security and human health. Long-term agricultural activities are sources of heavy metal pollution in farmland ecosystems. This study assessed the pollution situation of HMs in wheat grain from the major wheat-cultivation areas of Baoji, a typical agricultural area in Shaanxi, to assess the dietary health risks caused by consuming wheat grains and to prevent food pollution. The results showed that the mean grain concentration of Cr, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd and Pb were 0.11, 0.09, 4.41, 26.79, 0.01 and 0.03 mg/kg, respectively. These values were all remarkably lower than the tolerance limits of the Chinese food hygiene standard (GB2762-2017). According to the metal pollution index (MPI) analysis, wheat grain consumption poses no direct threat to human health. The health risk assessment showed that there was a noncarcinogenic risk to adults and children for wheat consumed in the study area. In the study area, no carcinogenic risk was manifested. Principal component analysis (PCA) indicated that the source of Ni was different from that of the other tested HMs and was mainly from industry, where as the others were mainly derived from agricultural activities. Therefore, more attention should be paid to Cu and Zn input through agricultural activities in fields to further prevent the accumulation of these HMs in wheat grains and their related human health risks.


Wheat grain in Baoji Heavy metal Health risk assessment Pollution 


Funding information

This study was financially supported by the Technology Basic Work of Science and Technology Ministry of China (No. 2015FY111300).

Supplementary material

10661_2019_7534_MOESM1_ESM.docx (246 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 246 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wenxiao Yang
    • 1
  • Dan Wang
    • 1
  • Mengke Wang
    • 1
  • Fei Zhou
    • 1
  • Jie Huang
    • 1
  • Mingyue Xue
    • 1
  • Quang Toan Dinh
    • 1
  • Dongli Liang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.College of Natural Resources and EnvironmentNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Plant Nutrition and the Agri-environment in Northwest ChinaMinistry of AgricultureYanglingChina

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