Lead, cadmium, arsenic, and zinc were quantified in mine wastes and in soils mixed with mine wastes. Metal concentrations were found to be heterogeneous in the wastes. Iceberg lettuce, Cherry Belle radishes, Roma bush beans, and Better Boy tomatoes were cultivated in mine wastes and in waste-amended soils. Lettuce and radishes had 100% survival in the 100% mine waste treatments compared to 0% and 25% survival for tomatoes and beans, respectively. Metal concentrations were determined in plant tissues to determine uptake and distribution of metals in the edible plant parts. Individual soil samples were collected beneath each plant to assess metal content in the immediate plant environment. This analysis verified heterogeneous metal content of the mine wastes. The four plant species effectively accumulated and translocated lead, cadmium, arsenic, and zinc. Tomato and bean plants contained the four metals mainly in the roots, and little was translocated to the fruits. Radish roots accumulated less metals compared to the leaves, whereas lettuce roots and leaves accumulated similar concentrations of the four metals. Lettuce leaves and radish roots accumulated significantly more metals than bean and tomato fruits. This accumulation pattern suggests that consumption of lettuce leaves or radish roots from plants grown in mine wastes would pose greater risks to humans and wildlife than would consumption of beans or tomatoes grown in the same area. The potential risk may be mitigated somewhat in humans, as vegetables grown in mine wastes exhibited stunted growth and chlorosis.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

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Full Access

Keywords and Phrases

Human health; Metal; Plant; Uptake

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Article - Journal

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Publication Date

01 Jan 2000