Mercury accumulation in plants from contaminated arable lands in Eastern Slovakia
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Department of Public Health and Hygiene, Faculty of Medicine, Pavol Jozef Šafárik University, Košice, Slovak Republic
1st Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Pavol Jozef Šafárik University, Košice, Slovak Republic
Institute of Physical Education and Sport, Pavol Jozef Šafárik University, Košice, Slovak Republic
1st Department of Stomatology, Faculty of Medicine, Pavol Jozef Šafárik University, Košice,Slovak Republic
Department of Physical Education and Sport, Faculty of Education, University of South Bohemia, České Budějovice, Czech Republic
Department of Biology, Faculty of Humanities and Natural Sciences, University of Prešov, Slovak Republic
Corresponding author
Tatiana Kimáková   

Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Hygiene, Šrobárova 2, 04180, Košice, Slovak Republic
Ann Agric Environ Med. 2020;27(1):29-35
Introduction and Objective:
Contamination of soil by mercury poses several risks to human health through consumption of fruits and vegetables. In Slovakia, a high concentration of mercury is found in the soil of the Central Spiš region. The objective of the study is to measure the mercury concentrations in the parts of selected plant species and trees growing within 100 meters of a former ore processing facility.

Material and methods:
A total of 24 samples of plants, 20 samples of parts of needle-leaved trees and 9 samples of parts of broad-leaved trees were collected from soils with a high concentration of mercury. The concentration was measured by atomic absorption spectrometry in different parts of the plants: leaves – 18 species, roots – 15 species, stems – 11 species, flowers – 7 species), and different parts of trees (crust – 8 species, branches – 8 species, needles – 5 species, cones – 5 species, leaves – 3 species).

The concentrations of mercury in the soils taken at a depth of 0.25 m exceeded the maximum allowed levels more than 50-times. Potatoes, parsley and carrots from these soils exceeded the maximum allowed mercury levels 6-times, 5-times and twice, respectively. The average concentrations of mercury in the roots of 2-year onions exceeded the limit more than 50-times. The flowers of cornflower contain 18.20 mg*kg -1 , leaves of dandelion 10.61 mg*kg -1 and roots of plantain 6.80 mg*kg -1 of mercury. Regarding trees, the highest concentrations were found in the branches of juniper and leaves of aspen – more than 1 mg*kg -1.

The systematic monitoring of mercury is still very important, since it was found that the end of ore processing does not solve the issue of contamination in the Central Spiš region. Therefore, the consumption of fruits and vegetables from the areas of former ore processing facilities is not recommended.

The study was partially supported by the Scientific Grant Agency of the Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic and the Slovak Academy of Sciences under contract VEGA 1/0783/18: Biochemical, physiological and haematological status in selected species of hunting game. The paper was also partially supported by the Cultural and Educational Grant Agency of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic under contract KEGA 005UPJŠ-4/2019: Analysis of Lifestyle Risk Factors of University Students and Students of the Third Age University, and under contract KEGA 018PU-4/2018: Innovation of methods and forms of teaching the subject of biochemistry.
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