Biological Trace Element Research

, Volume 187, Issue 1, pp 41–50 | Cite as

Concentration, Source, and Potential Human Health Risk of Heavy Metals in the Commonly Consumed Medicinal Plants

  • Shadi Kohzadi
  • Behzad Shahmoradi
  • Ebrahim Ghaderi
  • Hozan Loqmani
  • Afshin MalekiEmail author


A trend toward the use of traditional and herbal medicines has developed nowadays, and there is a growing concern regarding them being polluted with heavy metals. This study measured the heavy metal concentrations in eight different types of medicinal herbs and eight different types of herbal distillates sold in the markets in Sanandaj, Kurdistan, Iran. The concentration of some metals (Cd, Cu, Mn, Fe, Zn, Al, Co, Ni, Cr, Pb, and Mg) was quantified by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, and the associated health risk for adults and children was estimated. The mean concentration of all the metals was within the permissible limits set by the WHO. The medicinal herbs contained significantly more Al, As, Cd, Cr, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb, and Zn (p < 0.02) than the herbal distillates. However, the concentrations of Cu and Hg were higher in the herbal distillates. The non-carcinogenic risks of consumption of traditional medicines in adults and children were assessed based on the target hazard quotients (THQs). The THQs for individual metals (except Al and Cr) from individual herbs were less than 1, which is considered as safe for human consumption.


Heavy metals Medicinal plants Health risk assessment 


Funding information

This study received financial support from the Deputy of Research, Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences (grant number: IR.MUK.REC. 1393-108).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Health Research Center, Research Institute for Health DevelopmentKurdistan University of Medical SciencesSanandajIran
  2. 2.Student Research CommitteeKurdistan University of Medical SciencesSanandajIran
  3. 3.Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsKurdistan University of Medical SciencesSanandajIran
  4. 4.Department of Medicine, School of MedicineKurdistan University of Medical SciencesSanandajIran

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