Environmental science and pollution research international

Uptake of microcontaminants by crops irrigated with reclaimed water and groundwater under real field greenhouse conditions.

PMID 23397176


The use of reclaimed water for agricultural irrigation has emerged as a new strategy for coping with water scarcity in semiarid countries. However, the incorporation of the organic microcontaminants in such water into the diet through crop uptake poses a potential risk to human health. This paper aims to assess the presence of organic microcontaminants in different crops irrigated with groundwater and reclaimed water (secondary or tertiary effluents) in a greenhouse experiment. The determination of microcontaminants in water and vegetation samples was performed by solid-phase extraction and matrix solid-phase dispersion procedure with GC-MS/MS, respectively. The presence of nitrates in the groundwater used for irrigation increased biomass production by a higher proportion than the harvest index. The concentration of microcontaminants in lettuce, carrots, and green beans ranged from less than the limit of quantitation to 571 ng g(-1) (fresh weight). Tributyl phosphate and butylated hydroxyanisole exhibited the highest concentration levels in crops. The concentration and frequency of detection of microcontaminants were lower in green bean pods than in green bean roots and leaves. Although the concentrations were generally low, the simultaneous presence of a variety of microcontaminants should be taken into consideration when assessing the risk to human health.