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Soil contamination and human health

Heavy Metals

Heavy Metals


This group of contaminants includes metals (e.g., Cadmium, Cobalt, Mercury, Lead) and metalloids (e.g. Selenium, Antimony, Aresenic) with an atomic number greater than 20 (Sanaei et al., 2020) and a density greater that 5 g/cm¯³. Heavy metals are persistent and non-biodegradable, with some of them being toxic even at low concentrations.

Heavy metals naturally occur at site-specific (low) concentrations in soils, and some of them - such as Iron, Zinc, Nickel, Copper, or Magnesium - are essential micronutrients for plants, animals, and humans (Balseiro-Romero & Baveye, 2018). However, pollution or unsuitable agricultural management may also lead higher concentrations and or increased bioavailability, thus causing toxic effects and threats to both soil health and human health (Demková et al., 2017).


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