1 Department of Environmental Science, Graduate School of the Environment and Energy, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 Graduate Faculty of Environment, University of Tehran, P.O. Box 14135, Tehran, Iran


Presence of toxic metals in agricultural soils can impose adverse health impact on consumers. The main purpose of this study was to determine spatial distribution of elements Fe, Sb, Mn in agriculture soils and crops of Hamedan Province in Iran. Soil samples (0-20 cm depth) were collected from an area of 2831 km2.  Iron, Antimony and Manganese in samples of soil and agricultural crops were extracted and their amount was determined using atomic absorption spectrometer. The spatial distribution map of the studied elements was developed using Kriging method. The main concentration of Fe, Sb and Mn in the soil of the study area is about 3.8%, 2.5 and 403 mg/kg, respectively. According to chemical partitioning studies, the anthropogenic share of Fe, Sb and Mn is about 28.51%, 34.83% and 30.35%, respectively. Results of comparison of heavy metals pollution intensity in the agricultural soil with geo-accumulation index and also pollution index, illustrated that iron and manganese are classified in the Non-polluted class and antimony is in the moderately polluted class. Analysis of zoning map of pollution index showed that Fe, Sb and Mn are of geological sources. In fact, these metals are naturally found in soil. However, anthropogenic activities have led to more accumulation of these metals in the soil. The obtained health risk for metals in agricultural crops is indicative of safe value for consumers.

Graphical Abstract

Origin and spatial distribution of metals in agricultural soils


  • Fe, Sb and Mn possess lithogenic source in soils of Hamedan region
  • The agricultural products do not contain excess of Fe, Sb and Mn in comparison with standard limits
  • Elemental concentrations in crops of studied region do not impose any adverse health impact
  • Metal indices are indicative of  “No” to “Low” pollution


Akoto, O.; Ephraim, J.H.; Darko, G., (2008). Heavy Metals Pollution in Surface Soils in the Vicinity of Abundant Railway Servicing Workshop in Kumasi, Ghana, Int. J. Environ. Res., 2(4): 359-364 (6 pages).
Akoto,O.; Bismark Eshun, F.; Darko, G.; Adei, E., (2014). Concentrations and Health Risk Assessments of Heavy Metals in Fish from the Fosu Lagoon, Int. J. Environ. Res., 8(2):403-410 (8 pages).
Allison, LE., (1965). Organic carbon. In: Black, C.A. (Ed.). Methods of soil analysis. Part 2, Agronomy monograph, ASA, Madison.,2(1):1367– 1389 (23pages).
Alhashemi, A.H.; Karbassi, A.R.; Kiabi, B.K.; Monavari, S.M.; Sekhavatjou, M.S. (2012). Bioaccumulation of trace elements in different tissues of three commonly available fish species regarding their gender, gonadosomatic index, and condition factor in a wetland ecosystem. Environ. Monit. Assess. 184 (4): 1865-1878 (14 pages)
Anita,S.; Rajesh, K. S., (2010). Madhoolika Agrawal and Fiona M. Marshall; Risk assessment of heavy metal toxicity through contaminated vegetables from waste water irrigated area of Varanasi, India;  Tropical ecologu: Int. Soc. Trop. Ecol.,51(2): 375-387 (13  pages).
Anthony, G.K.; Balwant, S.; Naveen, P. B., (2007). Heavy metal tolerance in common fern species. Austral. J. Bot., 55, 63–73 (11 pages)
AOAC, (2005).  Methods of analysis., Association of Official Analytical Chemists. Washington D.C.
Aparna, C.; Saritha, P.; Himabindu,V.; Bhandari, A.; Anjaneyulu, Y., (2010). Evaluation of bioremediation effectiveness on sediments Contaminated with industrial wastes. Int. J. Environ. Sci.,1(4): 607-620 (14 pages).
APHA., (2005). Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater, 21st Ed., American Public Health Association, WWA and WEF, Washington; D.C.
ASTM., (2000). Standard test method for moisture, Ash and organic matter of peat and other organic soils, ASTM D2974-00.
Biati, A.; Karbassi, A.R.; Hassani, A.H.; Monavari, S.M.; Moattar, F., (2010). Role of metal species in flocculation rate during estuarine mixing. Int. J. Environ. Sci. Tech., 7(2): 327-336 (10 pages).
Black, C.A., (1965). Methods of soil analysis, Part 2. Second Ed, Agron. Monogr. 9, ASA, Madison, WI.
Chary, N.S.; Kamala, C.T.; Raj, D.S.S., (2008). Assessing risk of heavy metals from consuming food grown on sewage irrigated soils and food chain transfer. Ecotox. Environ. Safe., 6(9): 513–524 (12 pages).
Chen, Y.; Wang, C.; Wang, Z., (2005). Residues and source identification of per-sistent organic pollutants in farmland soils irrigated by effluents from biological treatment plants. Environ. Int., 3(1): 778-783 (6 pages).
De Miguel, E., (1997). Origin and patterns of distribution of trace elements in street dust : Unleaded petrol and urban lead. Atmos. Environ., 31( 17), 2733-2740 (8 pages).
De Vos, W.; Batista, M.J.; Demetriades, A.; Duris , M.J.; Lexa, J.; Lis, J.; Sina, K.; Connor, P.J., (2005). Metallogenic Mineral Provinces and World Class Ore Deposits in Europe”, In: Geochemical Atlas of Europe. Part 1 Background Information, Methodology and Maps, Geological Survey of Finland. [Online] availability.
Dewis, J.; Freitas, H., (1984). Physical and chemical methods of soil and water analysis. FAO Soil Bulletin 10, Oxford and IBH Publishing CO. PVTLTD. New Delhi.
Facchinelli, A.; Sacchi, E.; mallen, L., (2001). Multivariate statistical and GIS-based approach to identify heavy metal sources in soils. Environ. Pollut., 1(14): 313-324 (12 pages).
FAO/WHO., (2011). Joint FAO/WHO food standards program codex committee on contaminants in foods, 5(1): 64-89 (26 pages).
Franco-Uria, A.; Lopez-Mateo, C.; Roca , E.; Fernandez-Marcos, ML., (2009). Source identification of heavy metals in pastureland by multivariate analysis in NW Spain. J Hazard Mater., 16(5): 1008–1015 (8 pages).
Ghaderi, A.A., Abduli, M.A., Karbassi, A.R., Nasrabadi, T., Khajeh, M., (2012). Evaluating the effects of fertilizers on bioavailable metallic pollution of soils. Case study: Sistan farms, Iran. Int. J..Environ. Res., 6(2): 565-570 (6 pages).
Gee, G.W.; Bauder, J.W ., (1986). Particle-size analysis. In: Klute, A. (Ed.), Methods of soil analysis. American Society of Agronomy. Agron. Monogr., 9(1) :383– 411(29 pages).
Istvan, P.; Benton, J., (1997). Trace elements. Lucie Press. Boca Raton, Florida.
Iyengar, V.; Nair, P., (2000). Global outlook on nutrition and the environment: meeting the challenges of the next millennium. Sci. Total Environ., 24(9), 331-346 (16 pages).
Jiries, A., (2003). Vehicular contamination of dust in Amman, Jordan.  Environmentalist, 23(1): 205-210 (6 pages).
Johnston, K.;VerHoef, J.M.; Krivoruchko, K.; Lucas, N., (2001). Using ArcGIS geostatistical analyst. ESRI Press, New York.
Juang, K.W.; Lee, D.Y.; Ellsworth, T.R.,(2001). Using rank-order geostatistics for spatial interpolation of highly skewed data in heavy metal contaminated site. J. Environ. Qual. 30(1): 894-903 (10 pages).
Kabata-Pendias, A.; Pendias, H., (1984). Trace elements  in soils and plants. CRC, Press Boca Raton, FL.
Karbassi, A.R., (1998). Geochemistry of Ni, Zn, Cu, Pb, Co, Cd, V, Mn, Fe, Al and Ca in sediments of North Western part of the Persian Gulf. Int. J. Environ. Stud., 54(3), 205-212 (8 pages).
Karbassi, A.R.; Monavari, S.M.; Bidhendi, G.R.N.; Nouri, J.; Nematpour, K., (2008). Metal pollution assessment of sediment and water in the Shur River, Environ. Monit. Assess. 147 (1-3): 107-116 (10 pages).
Karbassi, A.R.; Nouri, J.; Ayaz, G.O., (2007). Flocculation of trace metals during mixing of Talar River water with Caspian seawater, Int. J. Environ. Res. 1 (1): 66-73 (8 pages).
Karbassi, A.R.; Shankar, R., (2005). Geochemistry of two sediment cores from the west coast of India, Int. J. Environ. Sci. Tech., 1(4), 307-316 (10 pages).
Karbassi, A.R.; Amirnezhad, R., (2004). Geochemistry of heavy metals and sedimentation rate in a bay adjacent to the Caspian sea. Int. J. Environ. Sci. Tech.,1 (3), 199-206 (8 pages).
Karbassi, A.R.; Torabi, F.; Ghazban, F.; Ardestani, M.,(2011). Association of trace metals with various sedimentary phases in dam reservoirs. I.J.E.S.T.,8(4), 841-852 (12 pages).
Karbassi, A.R.; Heidari, M.; Vaezi, A.R.; Valikhani Samani, A.R., Fakhraee, M.; Heidari,F., (2014). Effect of pH and salinity on flocculation process of heavy metals during mixing of Aras River water with Caspian Sea water. Environ. Earth Sci., 72(2): 457-465 (9 pages).
Karbassi, A.R.; Nouri, J.; Nabi Bidhendi, G.R.; Ayaz, Gh.,(2008). Behavior of Cu, Zn, Pb, Ni and Mn during mixing of freshwater with the Caspian Sea water, Desalination., 229(1): 118-124 (7 pages).
Karbassi, A.R; Monavari, S.M.; Nabi Bidhendi, Gh.R.; Nouri, J.; Nematpour, K., (2008). Metal pollution assessment of sediment and water in the Shur River. Environ. Monit. Assess., 14(7): 107–116 (10 pages).
Karbassi, A.R.; Tajziehchi, S.;, Farhang  Adib, F., (2016). Role of estuarine natural processes in removal of trace metals under emergency situations, Global J. Environ. Sci. Manage., 2(1), 31-38 (8 pages).
Karbassi, A.R.; Tajziehchi, S.; Afshar, S., (2015). An investigation on heavy metals in soils around oil field area. Global J. Environ. Sci. Manage., 1(4), 275-282 (8 pages).
Kargar, M.; Khorasani,N.A.; Karami,M.; Rafiee, G.H.; Naseh,R., (2012). An investigation on As, Cd, Mo and Cu contents of soils surrounding the Meyduk Tailings Dam, Int. J. Environ. Res., 6(1):173-184 (12 pages).
Khan,S.; Farooq, R.;Shahbaz, S.; Aziz Khan, M.; Sadique, M.,(2009). Health risk assessment of heavy metals for population via consumption of vegetables. World Appl. Sci. J., 6 (12): 1602-1606 (5 pages).
Lado, L.R.; Hengl, T.; Reuter, H.I., (2008). Heavy metals in European soils: A geostatistical analysis of the FOREGS Geochemical database. Geoderma.,14(8):189-199 (11pages).
Lone, M.I.; He,Z-l.; Stoffella, P.J.; Yang, X-e., (2008). Phytoremediation of heavy metal polluted soils and water: progresses and perspectives. J. Zhejiang University Sci., 9 (3): 210–220 (11 pages).
Mahmood, A.; Malik, R.N., (2014). Human health risk assessment of heavy metals via consumption of contaminated vegetables collected from different irrigation sources in Lahore, Pakistan, Arabian J. Chem.,7(1): 91-99 (9 pages).
Manta, D.S.; Angelone, M.; Bellancaa, A.; Neri,R.; Sprovieri, M., (2002). Heavy metals in urban soils: a case study from the city of Palermo, Sicily, Italy. Sci. Total Environ., 30(2):229–243(15 pages).
McBride, M.; Sauve, S.; Hendershole, W., (1997). Solubility control of Cu, Zn, Cd and Pb in contaminated soils, Eur. J. Soil Sci.,48(2), 337-346 (10 pages).
McGrath S.P., Shen Z.G., Zhao F.J., (1997). Heavy metal uptake and chemical changes in the rhizosphere of Thlaspi caerulescens and Thlaspi ochroleucum grown in contaminated soils. Plant Soil, 188: 153-159 (7 pages).
Mico, C.; Recatala, L.; Peris, M.; Sanchez, J., (2006). Assessing heavy metal sources in agricultural soils of an European Mediterranean area by multivariate analysis. Chemosphere., 6(5): 863-872(10 pages).
Mzoughi, N.; Chouba, L.,( 2012). Heavy Metals and PAH Assessment based on mussel caging in the north coast of Tunisia (Mediterranean Sea), Int. J. Environ. Res., 6(1):109-118 (10 pages).
Nasrabadi, T.; Nabi Bidhendi, G.; Karbassi, A.R.; Mehrdadi, N.;(2010). Partitioning of metals in sediments of the Haraz River: Southern Caspian Sea basin., Environ. Earth Sci. J., 59(5): 1111-1117 (7 pages).
Nasrabadi, T.; Nabi Bidhendi, G.R.; Karbassi, A.R.; Grathwohl, P.; Mehrdadi, N., (2011).Impact of major organophosphate pesticides used in agriculture to surface water and sediment quality: Southern Caspian Sea basin, Haraz River, Environ. Earth Sci.., 63(4): 873-883 (11 pages).
Nelson, D.W.; Sommers, L.E ., (1975). A rapid and accurate method for estimating organic carbon in soil. Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Science., 8(4): 456-462 (7 pages).
Niencheski Hax, L.F., (2002). Lithium as a normalizer for the assessment of anthropogenic metal contamination of sediments of the southern area of Patos Lagoon. Aquatic Ecosystem Health & Management., 5(4), 473-483 (11 pages).
Okunola, O.J.; Alhassan, Y.; Yapbella, G.G.; Uzairu, A.; Tsafe, A.I.; Embassey, E.; Abechi, S., (2011). Risk assessment of using mobile phone recharge cards in Nigeria. J. Environ. Chem. Ecotox., 3(4): 80-85 (6 pages).
Praveena, S.M.; Ahmed, A.; Radojevic, M.; Abdullah, M.H.; Aris, A.Z., (2008). Heavy metals in mangrove surface sediment of Mengkabong Lagoon, Sabah: Multivariate and geo-accumulation index approaches, Int. J. Environ. Res., 2(2): 139-148 (10 pages).
Rafiei,B.; Bakhtiari Nejad, M .; Hashemi, M.; Khodaei, A.S.,  (2010). Distribution of heavy metals around the Dashkasan Au Mine. Int. J. Environ. Res., 4(4): 647-654 (8 pages).
Raj Shakya, P.; Malla Khwaounjoo,N., (2013). Heavy metal contamination in green leafy vegetables collected from different market sites of Kathmandu and their associated health risks, Sci. World., 11( 11): 37-42 (6 pages).
Ramlan, M.N.;  Badri, M.A., (1989). Heavy metals in tropical city street dust and road side soils: A case of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Environ. Tech. Lett., 10(1): 435-444 (10 pages).
Rasmussen,P.E., Subramanian,K.S.,  Jessiman,B.J., (2001). A multi-element profile of house dust in relation to exterior dust and soils in the city of Ottawa. Canada. Sci. Total Environ., 2(67):125-140 (16 pages).
Rattan, R.K.; Datta, S.P.; Chhonkar, P.K. ; Suribabu, K.; Singh, A.K., (2005). Long-term impact of irrigation with sewage effluents on heavy metal content in soils, crops and groundwater: A case study. Agric. Ecosyst. Environ., 109(3): 310-322 (13 pages).
Rodriguez, L. ; Ruiz, E.; Azcarate ,J. A. ; Rincon, J., (2009). Heavy metal distribution and chemical speciation in tailing and soils around a Pb-Zn mine in Spain. J. Environ. Manage., 9(1):1106-1116 (11 pages).
Romic, M.; Hengl, T., Romic, D.; Husnjak, S ., (2007). Representing soil pollution by heavy metals using continous limitation scores. Comput. Geosci., 3(3): 1316–1326 (11 pages).
Sajjad, K.; Robina, F.; Shagufta, S.; Mohammad Aziz, K.; Maria, S., (2009). Health risk assessment of heavy metals for population via consumption of vegetables. World Appl. Sci. J., 6 (12): 1602-1606 (5 pages).
Schwar, M.J.R., (1988). Baseline metal in dust concentrations in Greater London. Sci. Total Environ., 6(8):25-43 (19 pages).
Serbaji, M.M.; Azri, C.; Medhioub, K., (2012). Anthropogenic contributions to heavy metal distributions in the surface and sub-surface sediments of the northern coast of Sfax, Tunisia, Int. J. Environ. Res., 6(3): 613-626 (14 pages).
Shaw, A.J., (1989). Heavy metal tolerance in plants: Evolutionary aspects. CRC Press, Inc. Florida.,2(1): 299-305 (6 pages).
Shetty, R.; Rajkumar, Sh., (2009). Biosorption of Cu (II) by metal resistant pseudomonas sp., Int. J. Environ. Res., 3(1):121-128 (8 pages).
Singanan, M.; Singanan, V.; Abebaw, A., (2008). Biosorption of Cr (III) from aqueous solutions using indigenous biomaterial. Int. J. Environ. Res., 2(2): 177-182 (6 pages).
Singh, K.P.; Mohan, D.; Sinha, S.; Dalwani, R.,(2004). Impact assessment of treated/ untreated wastewater toxicants discharged by sewage treatment plants on health, agricultural, and environmental quality in the wastewater disposal area. Chemosphere.,5(5): 227-255 (29 pages).
Soffianian, A.;  Sadat Madani, E.; Arabi, M., (2014). Risk assessment of heavy metal soil pollution through principal components analysis and false color composition in Hamedan Province, Iran, Environ. Syst. Res., 3: 3. doi:10.1186/2193-2697-3-3
Spencer, K.L.; Macleod, C.L., (2002). Distribution and partitioning of heavy metals in stuarine sediment cores and implications for the use of sediment quality standard. J. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 6 (6) : 989-998 (10 pages).
Supaphol, S.; Panichsakpatana, S.; Trakulnaleamsai, S.; Tungkananuruk, N.; Roughjanajirapa, P.; Gerard, O.; Donnell, A., (2006). The selection of mixed microbial inocula in environmental biotechnology: Example using petroleum contaminated tropical soils. J.Microbiol. Methods., 6(5): 432– 441 (10 pages).
Taghinia Hejabi, A.; Basavarajappa, H.T.; Karbassi, A.R.; Monavari, S.M., (2011). Heavy metal pollution in water and sediments in the Kabini River, Karnataka, India. Environ. Monit. Assess.,182(4): 1-13 (13 pages).
Tsafe, A.I.; Hassan, L,G.; Sahabi, D.M.; Alhassan,Y.; Bala, B.M., (2012). Evaluation of heavy metals uptake and risk assessment of vegetables grown in Yargalma of northern Nigeria. J. Basic. Appl. Sci. Res., 2(7): 6708-6714 (7 pages).
Turekian, K.K.; Wedepohl , KH., (1961). Distribution of the elements in some major units of the earth's crust. Geol. Soc. Am. Bull., 7(2): 75–92 (18 pages).
Turkdogan, M.K.; Fevzi, K.; Kazim, K., Ilyas, T.; Ismail, U., (2003). Heavy metals in soil, vegetables and fruits in the endemic upper gastrointestinal cancer region of Turkey. Environ. Toxic. Pharmacol.,1(3):175-179 (5 pages).
Uba, S.; Uzairu, A.; Okunola, O.J.,(2009). Content of heavy metals in lumbricus terrestrisand associated soils in dump sites. Int. J. Environ. Res., 3(3): 353-358 (6 pages).
USDA., (2004). Soil survey laboratory methods manual. United States Department of Agriculture, USA.
US-EPA IRIS., (2006). Integrated risk information system. United States, Environmental Protection Agency.

Letters to Editor

GJESM Journal welcomes letters to the editor for the post-publication discussions and corrections which allows debate post publication on its site, through the Letters to Editor. Letters pertaining to manuscript published in GJESM should be sent to the editorial office of GJESM within three months of either online publication or before printed publication, except for critiques of original research. Following points are to be considering before sending the letters (comments) to the editor.

[1] Letters that include statements of statistics, facts, research, or theories should include appropriate references, although more than three are discouraged.
[2] Letters that are personal attacks on an author rather than thoughtful criticism of the author’s ideas will not be considered for publication.
[3] Letters can be no more than 300 words in length.
[4] Letter writers should include a statement at the beginning of the letter stating that it is being submitted either for publication or not.
[5] Anonymous letters will not be considered.
[6] Letter writers must include their city and state of residence or work.
[7] Letters will be edited for clarity and length.