Does returning sites of historic peri-urban waste disposal to vegetable production pose a risk to human health? – A case study near Manchester, UK

Authors

  • N. R. Atkinson,

    1. Division of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, Gateway Building, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE12 5RD, UK
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  • S. D. Young,

    1. Division of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, Gateway Building, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE12 5RD, UK
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  • A. M. Tye,

    1. British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham NG12 5GG, UK
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  • N. Breward,

    1. British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham NG12 5GG, UK
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  • E. H. Bailey

    1. Division of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, Gateway Building, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE12 5RD, UK
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E. H. Bailey. E-mail: liz.bailey@nottingham.ac.uk

Abstract

Urban waste disposal occurred on fenland to the west of Manchester, England, between 1900 and 1964. The reclaimed fenland, Chat Moss, is now used for mixed arable farming. A total of 1.92 Mt of waste including privy midden, street sweepings, clinkers and slaughterhouse refuse was incorporated into the moss resulting in a modified topsoil with raised pH and reduced organic matter content compared with the subsoil. Elevated levels of potentially toxic elements (PTEs) are observed in the topsoil beyond the typical depth of atmospheric contamination; Cd and As concentrations exceed soil guideline values (SGVs) at 1.8 and 43 mg/kg, respectively. Sequential extraction indicates that waste-derived Pb, Zn and Ni remain predominantly in the residual fraction, whereas Cu was mainly organically bound. Arsenic was predominately found in oxide and organic matter fractions with Cd in carbonate, oxide, organic matter and residual fractions. Pot trials indicated limited uptake of PTEs by vegetables grown on the waste-amended soil, with the exception of Cd uptake by lettuce (0.22 mg/kg FW) and Pb uptake by radish (0.16 mg/kg FW), which exceeded current EU limits of 0.2 and 0.1 mg/kg FW, respectively. Hazard quotients (HQs) identified no risks to adults from consumption of vegetables grown in these soils with the exception of lettuce consumption with a HQ of 1.4. Risks to children were slightly greater with HQs >1 for Cd in lettuce, spinach, carrots and onion, As in lettuce, parsley and onion and for Zn in spinach.

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