539 Assessing Soil and Water Thresholds for Potential Dietary Zinc Toxicity in Selected Vegetable Crops

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  • 1Dept. Soil Sci. & Plant Nutr., Zhejiang Univ., Hangzhou 310029, China; 2Indian River Res. & Ed. Center, Univ. of Florida, Ft. Pierce, FL 34945

Vegetables play an important role in the human diet, and production in suburban areas has increased as populations have become more urbanized. However, heavy metal pollution of soils has enhanced in such areas, and metal accumulation in vegetables may pose a human health risk when consumed. Zinc is an essential micronutrient for plants and humans, but it is toxic to plants and humans at high levels. Although a maximum Zn tolerance for human health has been established for edible parts of vegetables (20 mg/kg DW), little information is available for predicting vegetable Zn concentration based on soil and water Zn levels. The objectives of this study were to determine the critical Zn concentrations in nutrition solution and soil to reach maximum Zn tolerance concentrations in Chinese cabbage, bok choy, and celery. Five Zn levels were used for both solution and soil culture experiments, with three replicates of each. Shoot growth was significantly inhibited at Zn concentrations above 50 mg/L in nutrition solution and above 180 mg/kg in soil. The sensitivity of crops to zinc toxicity, in term of shoot and root growth, decreased in the order: celery > Chinese cabbage > bok choy. Zinc accumulation in shoots and edible parts varied with Zn supply levels and type of vegetables. A negative correlation was noted between Zn accumulation and dry matter yields, with r-squared values of 0.980** for nutrient solution and 0.960* for soil culture. Zinc concentrations in shoots or edible vegetable parts were below 20 mg/kg (human health threshold) when they were grown at DTPA extractable Zn in the soil less than 75, 100, and 175 mg/kg for bok choy, celery, and Chinese cabbage, respectively.

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