Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 9, pp 8808–8820 | Cite as

Endocrine disrupting pesticides in soil and their health risk through ingestion of vegetables grown in Pakistan

  • Neelum Ali
  • Sardar KhanEmail author
  • Muhammad Amjad Khan
  • Muhammad Waqas
  • Huaiying Yao
Research Article


A comprehensive study was conducted to appraise the concentrations of 30 endocrine disrupting pesticides (EDPs) in soil and vegetable samples collected from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. The sum of 30 EDPs (Σ30EDPs) ranged from 192 to 2148 μg kg−1 in the collected soils. The selected EDP concentrations exceeded their respective limits in most of the tested soils and showed great variation from site to site. Similarly, high variations in Σ30EDP concentrations were also observed in vegetables with the highest mean concentration in lettuce (28.9 μg kg−1), followed by radish (26.6 μg kg−1), spinach (25.7 μg kg−1), onion (16.2 μg kg−1), turnip (15.6 μg kg−1), and garlic (14.7 μg kg−1). However, EDP levels in all studied vegetables were within FAO/WHO limits. The mean bioconcentration factor values were observed < 1 for all the studied vegetables. The health risk assessment revealed that the incremental lifetime cancer risk (ILCR) of Σ30EDPs associated with vegetable ingestion was below the acceptable risk level (1 × 10−6), showing no cancer risk to local inhabitants. However, exposure to endocrine disruptor and probable carcinogen heptachlor epoxide poses a potential non-cancer risk (hazard quotient (HQ > 1)) to children through vegetable consumption. The presence of banned EDPs in soils and vegetables of the study area indicates the stability of these legacy chemicals in the environment from over usage in the past or illegal current application for agricultural purposes.

Graphical abstract


Endocrine disrupting pesticides Cancer risk Heptachlor epoxide Vegetables Bioconcentration 


Funding information

The current study was financially supported under the Strategic Priority Research Program (XDB15020301) by Chinese Academy of Sciences and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41525002).

Supplementary material

11356_2019_4287_MOESM1_ESM.doc (242 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 242 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neelum Ali
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sardar Khan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Muhammad Amjad Khan
    • 1
  • Muhammad Waqas
    • 3
  • Huaiying Yao
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of PeshawarPeshawarPakistan
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Urban Environmental Processes and Pollution Control, Ningbo Urban Environment Observation and Research Station-NUEORSChinese Academy of SciencesNingboPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of Environmental and Conservation SciencesUniversity of SwatMingoraPakistan

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