Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 115, Issue 2, pp 295–312 | Cite as

Heavy metal signatures in urban and peri-urban agricultural soils across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, India

  • Prem Jose VazhacharickalEmail author
  • Trupti Gurav
  • D. Chandrasekharam
Original Article


Millennium Development Goals recognized the contribution of urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) towards food security, income generation, and livelihood strategies. Given the scarcity of relevant data, the present study was conducted to assess heavy metal load of UPA soils (at 0.00–0.20, 0.20–0.60 and 0.60–1.00 m depth) in Mumbai Metropolitan Region, India by comparing the signatures from soil profiles of three railway gardens (RG1–3) and three farms (F1–3) over 2 years. Potential human health risks of consuming produce from these soils were assessed using the contamination factor, degree of contamination, pollution load index (PLI), enrichment factor, geoaccumulation index (Igeo), and total metal and element content in comparison with different safety standards. Semi-sequential extractions were performed to determine the concentration of available elements and heavy metals for plants. The total concentration of heavy metals (Cr, Ni, and Sr) exceeded the critical thresholds in all surface soils, while the contribution of water-soluble and exchangeable fractions of Cu, Fe, Co, and Cr was negligible across the selected gardens. At the same soil depth, the PLI was highest for RG3 (3.6) at 0.00–0.20 m depth and lowest in RG2 (1.2). The Igeo value for individual elements ranged from 0.08 to 0.12 (Ni), 0.06 to 0.12 (Cr), 0.07 to 0.10 (Zn), 0.10 to 0.18 (Cu), and 0.24 to 0.34 (Co), whereas the value for Mn was 0.01 similar in all gardens. The soil pollution assessments by these indices revealed moderate to considerable (chromium and strontium) heavy metal contamination and accumulation, however, the origin of these metals remain unclear.


Enrichment factor Geogenic Pollution load index Wastewater use 



The authors are grateful for the cooperation of the UPA gardeners in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region and for funding of this study by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) through the International Centre of Development and Decent Work (ICDD) at University of Kassel, Germany. We thank Fiat Panis Foundation (Ulm, Germany) for providing a scholarship and research funding to the first author. For technical analysis and support thanks go to the Department of Earth Sciences, IITB and the staff at the Sophisticated Analytical Instrument Facility (SAIF, IITB) and the Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (CTARA, IITB) in Mumbai, India. The lab assistance of Mrs. Eva Wiegard and Claudia Thieme at Kassel University is gratefully acknowledged. The authors are also thankful for the comments and support from Prof. Dr. Andreas Buerkert, Dr. Martina Predotova, Dr. Alexandra zum Felde, Dr. Christoph Steiner, and Dr. Salini Sasidharan.

Supplementary material

10705_2018_9966_MOESM1_ESM.docx (3.2 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 3306 kb)


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiotechnologyMar Augusthinose CollegeRamapuramIndia
  2. 2.Department of Earth SciencesIndian Institute of Technology BombayMumbaiIndia

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