Occurrence and partitioning of cadmium, arsenic and lead in mine impacted paddy rice: Hunan, China

Paul N Williams, Ming Lei, Guoxin Sun, Qing Huang, Ying Lu, Claire Deacon, Andrew A Meharg, Yong-Guan Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

405 Citations (Scopus)


Paddy rice has been likened to nictiana sp in its ability to scavenge cadmium (Cd) from soil, whereas arsenic (As) accumulation is commonly an order of magnitude higher than in other cereal crops. In areas such as those found in parts of Hunan province in south central China, base-metal mining activities and rice farming coexist. Therefore there is a considerable likelihood that lead (Pb), in addition to Cd and As, will accumulate in rice grown in parts of this region above levels suitable for human consumption. To test this hypothesis, a widespread provincial survey of rice from mine spoilt paddies (n = 100), in addition to a follow-up market grain survey (n = 122) conducted in mine impacted areas was undertaken to determine the safety of local rice supply networks. Furthermore, a specific Cd, As, and Pb biogeochemical survey of paddy soil and rice was conducted within southern China, targeting sites impacted by mining of varying intensities to calibrate rice metal(loid) transfer models and transfer factors that can be used to predict tissue loading. Results revealed a number of highly significant correlations between shoot, husk, bran, and endosperm rice tissue fractions and that rice from mining areas was enriched in Cd, As, and Pb. Sixty-five, 50, and 34% of all the mine-impacted field rice was predicted to fail national food standards for Cd, As, and Pb, respectively. Although, not as elevated as the grains from the mine-impacted field survey, 4 was demonstrated that metal(loid) tainted rice was entering food supply chains intended for direct human consumption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)637-642
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number3
Early online date6 Jan 2009
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2009


  • oryza-sativa l.
  • potential health-risk
  • lead/zinc mine
  • Chenzhou-city
  • grain
  • soil
  • contamination
  • accumulation
  • speciation
  • crops


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