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Arsenic Contamination of Selected Indigenous and Exotic Leafy Vegetables in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa

Grace George and Bomikazi M. Gqaza
Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, South Africa
Abstract—The presence of some essential (iron, copper, chromium, selenium and zinc) and toxic (arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury) metals in two cultivated Brassicca species (oleracea and rapa) and two indigenous leafy vegetables (Chenopodium album and Solanum nigram) were examined in samples collected from two areas of Mthatha region of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. The dried leaves of plants were prepared using standard laboratory procedures and analysed using atomic absorption spectrometry for elemental composition. Each element was calculated as percentage dry matter. The concentrations of potassium, calcium and magnesium, sodium and iron were found to be the most abundant components while copper, chromium, selenium , zinc and arsenic were the minor elements Cadmium, lead and mercury were not detected while traces (< 0.05mg/Kg) of antimony and tin were found in all samples. Currently there is a renewed interest in the consumption indigenous leafy vegetables which were popular among the rural population as a source of macro and micronutrients. Indigenous leafy vegetables also play very important nutritional roles in the food security of the rural population. The results of this study indicating the presence of arsenic in the leafy vegetables grown in the area is a cause for concern. Further studies are required to establish the source and extent of this contamination in other areas of the province, speciation of arsenic as arsenic and other toxic metals are reported in water, soils and vegetables grown in home gardens in mineral rich South Africa.

Index Terms—arsenic, exotic, indigenous leafy vegetables, toxic metals, human health.

Cite: Grace George and Bomikazi M. Gqaza, "Arsenic Contamination of Selected Indigenous and Exotic Leafy Vegetables in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa," Journal of Advanced Agricultural Technologies, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 29-33, June 2015. Doi: 10.12720/joaat.2.1.29-33
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