Cadmium and Lead Pollution Characteristics of Soils, Vegetables and Human Hair Around an Open‐cast Lead‐zinc Mine


Atmospheric deposition of cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb) was investigated together with the accumulation, distribution and health risks from potentially toxic metals in soils, vegetables and human hair at a mining area in southwest China. Annual atmospheric deposition of Cd and Pb were 41.1 and 192 g ha− 1, respectively, and consisted mainly of dry deposition. Agricultural soils experienced high levels of metal pollution around the mine, with 66.4% and 57.3 % of vegetable samples grown on these polluted fields exceeding maximum permissible Cd and Pb concentrations, particularly the leafy vegetables. Residents living near the mining area had high Cd (0.75 mg kg− 1) and Pb (6.87 mg kg− 1) concentrations in their hair, and the maximum values occurred in occupationally exposed individuals. Long-term mining activities have resulted in high health risks to the local population due to Cd and Pb deposition and accumulation from the atmosphere, soils and vegetables.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

We’re sorry, something doesn't seem to be working properly.

Please try refreshing the page. If that doesn't work, please contact support so we can address the problem.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3


  1. Cao XY, Tan CY, Wu LH et al (2020) Atmospheric deposition of cadmium in an urbanized region and the effect of simulated wet precipitation on the uptake performance of rice. Sci Total Environ 700:134513

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) (2020) Biomonitoring Summaries. Accessed 1 December 2020

  3. Chen L, Zhou SL, Wu SH et al (2019) Concentration, fluxes, risks, and sources of heavy metals in atmospheric deposition in the Lihe River watershed, Taihu region, eastern China. Environ Pollut 255:113301

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Cheng XF, Danek T, Drozdova J et al (2018) Soil heavy metal pollution and risk assessment associated with the Zn-Pb mining region in Yunnan, Southwest China. Environ Monit Assess 190:194

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. China National Environmental Monitoring Centre (1990) China Soil Element Background Value. China Environmental Science Press (in Chinese)

  6. Ejtemaei M, Gharabaghi M, Irannajad M (2014) A review of zinc oxide mineral beneficiation using flotation method. Adv Colloid Interfac 206:68–78

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Fang FM, Wang Y, Zhu Z et al (2019) Distribution characteristics and influencing factors of heavy metals in scalp hair of Huainan urban residents. Environ Monit Assess 191:443

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Feng WL, Guo ZH, Peng C et al (2019) Atmospheric bulk deposition of heavy metal(loid)s in central south China: fluxes, influencing factors and implication for paddy soils. J Hazard Mater 371:634–642

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Gan YD, Wang LH, Yang GQ et al (2017) Multiple factors impact the contents of heavy metals in vegetables in high natural background area of China. Chemosphere 184:1388–1395

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Gupta N, Yadav KK, Kumar V et al (2019) Trace elements in soil-vegetables interface: translocation, bioaccumulation, toxicity and amelioration – a review. Sci Total Environ 651:2927–2942

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Li YH, Zhang XW, Yang LS et al (2012) Levels of Cd, Pb, As, Hg, and Se in hair of residents living in villages around Fenghuang polymetallic mine, southwestern China. B Environ Contam Tox 89:125–128

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Li ZY, Ma ZW van der KTJ, et al (2014) A review of soil heavy metal pollution from mines in China: pollution and health risk assessment. Sci Total Environ 468–469:843–853

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Liu YB, Cui J, Peng Y et al (2020) Atmospheric deposition of hazardous elements and its accumulation in both soil and grain of winter wheat in a lead-zinc smelter contaminated area, Central China. Sci Total Environ 707:135789

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Luo XS, Bing HJ, Luo ZX et al (2019) Impacts of atmospheric particulate matter pollution on environmental biogeochemistry of trace metals in soil-plant system: A review. Environ Pollut 255:113138

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Luo RX, Zhuo XY, Ma D (2014) Determination of 33 elements in scalp hair samples from inhabitants of a mountain village of Tonglu city, China. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 104:215–219

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Ma YD, Tang YQ, Xu H et al (2019) Bulk/wet deposition of trace metals to rural, industrial, and urban areas in the Yangtze River Delta, China. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 169:185–191

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Pan XD, Wu PG, Jiang XG (2016) Levels and potential health risk of heavy metals in marketed vegetables in Zhejiang, China. Sci Rep 6:20317

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Ryabukkin YS (1978) Activation analysis of hair as an indicator of contamination of man by environmental trace element pollutants. Vienna: International Atomic Energy Agency, Report no. IAEA/RL/50, IAEA

  19. TA Luft (2002) Technical Instructions on Air Quality Control, First General Administration Regulation Pertaining the Federal Emission Control Act. Accessed 1 December 2020

  20. Vázquez M, Calatayud M, Jadán PC et al (2015) Toxic trace elements at gastrointestinal level. Food Chem Toxicol 86:163–175

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Wang Q, Feng YM, Wang SM et al (2015) Assessment of the cadmium exposure in the blood, diet and water of the Pumi people in Yunnan, China. Biol Trace Elem Res 168:349–355

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Wang T, Fu JJ, Wang YW et al (2009) Use of scalp hair as indicator of human exposure to heavy metals in an electronic waste recycling area. Environ Pollut 157:2445–2451

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Wang YR, Wang RM, Fan LY et al (2017) Assessment of multiple exposure to chemical elements and health risks among residents near Huodehong lead-zinc mining area in Yunnan, Southwest China. Chemosphere 174:613–627

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Wen HJ, Zhang YX, Cloquet C et al (2015) Tracing sources of pollution in soils from the Jinding Pb-Zn mining district in China using cadmium and lead isotopes. Appl Geochem 52:147–154

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Xue CJ, Zeng R, Li SW et al (2007) Geologic, fluid inclusion and isotopic characteristics of the Jinding Zn-Pb deposit, western Yunnan, South China: A review. Ore Geol Rev 31:337–359

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Yan Y (1998) Back-ground value research of the soil environment of Jinding district in Lanping County. Yunnan Environ Sci 17:15–17 (in Chinese)

    Google Scholar 

  27. Ye LM, Huang MJ, Zhong BQ et al (2018) Wet and dry deposition fluxes of heavy metals in Pearl River Delta Region (China): Characteristics, ecological risk assessment, and source apportionment. J Environ Sci 70:106–123

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Zaw K, Peters SG, Cromie P, Burrett C et al (2007) Nature, diversity of deposit types and metallogenic relations of South China. Ore Geol Rev 31:3–47

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Zhang W, Zhang XT, Cao CY (2009) Determination and analysis of zinc amount in the hair of 159 local children in Lanping. J Dali Univ 8:53–55 (in Chinese)

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. Zhang XW, Yang LS, Li YH et al (2012) Impacts of lead/zinc mining and smelting on the environment and human health in China. Environ Monit Assess 184:2261–2273

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Zhong TY, Xue DW, Zhao LM et al (2018) Concentration of heavy metals in vegetables and potential health risk assessment in China. Environ Geochem Health 40:313–322

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Zhou T, Li Z, Zhang F et al (2016) Concentrations of arsenic, cadmium and lead in human hair and typical foods in eleven Chinese cities. Environ Toxicol Phar 48:150–156

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Zhou T, Wu LH, Luo YM et al (2018) Effects of organic matter fraction and compositional changes on distribution of cadmium and zinc in long-term polluted soils. Environ Pollut 232:514–522

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


This research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (42007132), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2018YFC1802600) and the Yunnan Key Research and Development Program (2018BB017).

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Longhua Wu.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Zhou, T., Wang, Z., Christie, P. et al. Cadmium and Lead Pollution Characteristics of Soils, Vegetables and Human Hair Around an Open‐cast Lead‐zinc Mine. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol (2021).

Download citation


  • Atmospheric deposition
  • Health risk
  • Potentially toxic metals
  • Spatial distribution
  • Mining activity
  • Yunnan province