Concept: Heavy metal
The preparation and consumption of bone broth is being increasingly recommended to patients, for example as part of the gut and psychology syndrome (GAPS) diet for autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression and schizophrenia, and as part of the paleolithic diet. However, bones are known to sequester the heavy metal lead, contamination with which is widespread throughout the modern environment. Such sequestered lead can then be mobilised from the bones. We therefore hypothesised that bone broth might carry a risk of being contaminated with lead. A small, blinded, controlled study of lead concentrations in three different types of organic chicken broth showed that such broths do indeed contain several times the lead concentration of the water with which the broth is made. In particular, broth made from skin and cartilage taken off the bone once the chicken had been cooked with the bones in situ, and chicken-bone broth, were both found to have markedly high lead concentrations, of 9.5 and 7.01μgL(-1), respectively (compared with a control value for tap water treated in the same way of 0.89μgL(-1)). In view of the dangers of lead consumption to the human body, we recommend that doctors and nutritionists take the risk of lead contamination into consideration when advising patients about bone broth diets.
Globally, there has been an increase in the use of herbal remedies including traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). There is a perception that products are natural, safe and effectively regulated, however, regulatory agencies are hampered by a lack of a toolkit to audit ingredient lists, adulterants and constituent active compounds. Here, for the first time, a multidisciplinary approach to assessing the molecular content of 26 TCMs is described. Next generation DNA sequencing is combined with toxicological and heavy metal screening by separation techniques and mass spectrometry (MS) to provide a comprehensive audit. Genetic analysis revealed that 50% of samples contained DNA of undeclared plant or animal taxa, including an endangered species of Panthera (snow leopard). In 50% of the TCMs, an undeclared pharmaceutical agent was detected including warfarin, dexamethasone, diclofenac, cyproheptadine and paracetamol. Mass spectrometry revealed heavy metals including arsenic, lead and cadmium, one with a level of arsenic >10 times the acceptable limit. The study showed 92% of the TCMs examined were found to have some form of contamination and/or substitution. This study demonstrates that a combination of molecular methodologies can provide an effective means by which to audit complementary and alternative medicines.
Water contamination by heavy metals from industrial activities is a serious environmental concern. To mitigate heavy metal toxicity and to recover heavy metals for recycling, biomaterials used in phytoremediation and bio-sorbent filtration have recently drawn renewed attention. The filamentous protonemal cells of the moss Funaria hygrometrica can hyperaccumulate lead (Pb) up to 74% of their dry weight when exposed to solutions containing divalent Pb. Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy revealed that Pb is localized to the cell walls, endoplasmic reticulum-like membrane structures, and chloroplast thylakoids, suggesting that multiple Pb retention mechanisms are operating in living F. hygrometrica. The main Pb-accumulating compartment was the cell wall, and prepared cell-wall fractions could also adsorb Pb. Nuclear magnetic resonance analysis showed that polysaccharides composed of polygalacturonic acid and cellulose probably serve as the most effective Pb-binding components. The adsorption abilities were retained throughout a wide range of pH values, and bound Pb was not desorbed under conditions of high ionic strength. In addition, the moss is highly tolerant to Pb. These results suggest that the moss F. hygrometrica could be a useful tool for the mitigation of Pb-toxicity in wastewater.
Although urban community gardening can offer health, social, environmental, and economic benefits, these benefits must be weighed against the potential health risks stemming from exposure to contaminants such as heavy metals and organic chemicals that may be present in urban soils. Individuals who garden at or eat food grown in contaminated urban garden sites may be at risk of exposure to such contaminants. Gardeners may be unaware of these risks and how to manage them. We used a mixed quantitative/qualitative research approach to characterize urban community gardeners' knowledge and perceptions of risks related to soil contaminant exposure. We conducted surveys with 70 gardeners from 15 community gardens in Baltimore, Maryland, and semi-structured interviews with 18 key informants knowledgeable about community gardening and soil contamination in Baltimore. We identified a range of factors, challenges, and needs related to Baltimore community gardeners' perceptions of risk related to soil contamination, including low levels of concern and inconsistent levels of knowledge about heavy metal and organic chemical contaminants, barriers to investigating a garden site’s history and conducting soil tests, limited knowledge of best practices for reducing exposure, and a need for clear and concise information on how best to prevent and manage soil contamination. Key informants discussed various strategies for developing and disseminating educational materials to gardeners. For some challenges, such as barriers to conducting site history and soil tests, some informants recommended city-wide interventions that bypass the need for gardener knowledge altogether.
The Croatian part of the Danube River extends over 188 km and comprises 58 % of the country’s overall area used for commercial freshwater fishing. To date, the heavy metal contamination of fish in the Croatian part of the Danube has not been studied. The main purpose of this study was to determine heavy metal levels in muscle tissue of sampled fish species and to analyze the measured values according to feeding habits of particular groups. Lead ranged from 0.015 μg(-1) dry weight in planktivorous to 0.039 μg(-1) dry weight in herbivorous fish, cadmium from 0.013 μg(-1) dry weight in herbivorous to 0.018 μg(-1) dry weight in piscivorous fish, mercury from 0.191 μg(-1) dry weight in omnivorous to 0.441 μg(-1) dry weight in planktivorous fish and arsenic from 0.018 μg(-1) dry weight in planktivorous to 0.039 μg(-1) dry weight in omnivorous fish. Among the analyzed metals in muscle tissue of sampled fish, only mercury exceeded the maximal level (0.5 mg kg(-1)) permitted according to the national and EU regulations determining maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs, indicating a hazard for consumers of fish from the Danube River.
Bioremediation of contaminated sites by biosorption of pollutants onto a wide range of materials has emerged as a promising treatment for recalcitrant aromatic compounds or heavy metals. When adsorption occurs on living white-rot fungi mycelia, the pollutants may be degraded by ligninolytic enzymes. However, the survival of mycelia in harsh conditions is one of the drawbacks of those methodologies. In this study, it was demonstrated that culture media supplemented with several guaiacol derivatives (vanilloids) increased the resistance of Ganoderma lucidum E47 cultures to chemical stress by enhancing the adsorptive capacity of the extracellular mucilaginous material (ECMM). The toxicity of the fungicides gentian violet (GV), malachite green (MG) and clotrimazole, and the heavy metal Cadmium was noticeably diminished in fungal cultures supplemented with the guaiacol derivative vanillic acid (VA). No degradation of the tested compounds was detected. The activity of the oxidative enzymatic systems like laccase, a well-known oxidase associated to dye degradation, was only detectable after complete growth on plates. Extremely low concentrations of VA caused a significant protective effect, radial extension of the growth halo in plates supplemented with 0.0001 mM of VA plus GV was up to 20% to that obtained in control plates (without addition of GV and VA). Therefore, the protective effect could not be attributable to VA per se. ECMM separated from the mycelium exhibited a much higher increase in the adsorptive capacity when isolated from liquid cultures containing VA, while that obtained from unsupplemented cultures showed an almost null adsorptive capacity.
There has been a widespread world-wide use of flathead mullet, Mugilcephalus, in fish biomonitor studies within the coastal zone. This review summarises this research field, focusing on heavy metals, and considers the implications of the accumulated data. Differences in sampling methodology, tissues analysed and units of reported data provide challenges in assessing and benchmarking these biomonitor studies. The benthic feeding strategy of M.cephalus invariably increases exposure risk relative to middle or upper water column feeders, nevertheless contaminant accumulation via direct and indirect pathways was regulated sufficiently such that toxicants were below food guidelines in most coastal regions (32 of the 49 examined). Human health issues can arise if fish are consumed from heavily industrialised regions. Recommendations are provided for future biomonitoring studies, based on the results for M. cephalus but relevant for fish species more broadly, to provide more comparable data so that managers can benchmark against local conditions.
Experiments were conducted to remove heavy metals (Cr, Cd, Pb, Cu and Zn) from urban sewage sludge (SS) amended with spent mushroom compost (SMC) using worms, Lumbricus rubellus, for 105 days, after 21 days of pre-composting. Five combinations of SS/SMC treatments were prepared in triplicate along with a control for each treatment in microcosms. Analysis of the earthworms' multiplication and growth and laboratory analysis were conducted during the tenth and fifteenth week of vermicomposting. Our result showed that the final biomass of earthworms (mg) and final number of earthworms showed significant differences between treatments i.e. F=554.70, P=0.00 and F=729.10, P=0.00 respectively. The heavy metals Cr, Cd and Pb contained in vermicompost were lower than initial concentrations, with 90-98.7percent removal on week ten. However, concentrations of Cu and Zn, that are considered as micronutrients, were higher than initial concentrations, but they were 10-200-fold lower than the EU and USA biosolid compost limits and Malaysian Recommended Site Screening Levels for Contaminated Land (SSLs). An increment of heavy metals were recorded in vermicompost for all treatments on week fifteen compared to week ten, while concentration of heavy metals in earthworms' tissue were lower compared to vermicompost. Hence, it is suggested that earthworms begin to discharge heavy metals into their surroundings and it was evident that the earthworms' heavy metals excretion period was within the interval of ten to fifteen weeks.
Present work examines phytoextraction potential of four black locust families (half-sibs 54, 56, 115 and 135) grown hydroponically. Plants were treated with 6 ppm of cadmium (Cd), 100 ppm of nickel (Ni) and 40 ppm of lead (Pb) added in Hoagland nutrient solution, accompanying with simultaneously applied all three metals. Responses to metals exposure among families were different, ranging from severe to slight reduction of root and shoot biomass production of treated plants. Calculated tolerance indices are indicating tested families as highly tolerant (Ti > 60). Family 135 had the lowest tolerance index, pointing that it was highly susceptible to applied metals. Comparing photosynthetic activities of tested families it has been noticed that they were highly sensitive to stress induced by heavy metals. Net photosynthetic rate of nickel treated plants was the most affected by applied concentration. Cadmium and nickel concentrations in stems and leaves of black locust families exceeded 100 mg Cd kg(-1) and 1000 mg Ni kg(-1), in both single and multipolution context. On the contrary, accumulation of lead in above ground biomass was highly affected by multipolution treatment. Tf and BCF significantly varied between investigated treatments and families of black locust. Concerning obtained results of heavy metals accumulation and tolerance of black locust families can be concluded that tested families might be a promising tool for phytoextraction purposes, but it takes to be further confirmed in field trials.
Biotechnology of microalgae has gained popularity due to the growing need for novel environmental technologies and the development of innovative mass-production. Inexpensive growth requirements (solar light and CO2), and, the advantage of being utilized simultaneously for multiple technologies (e.g. carbon mitigation, biofuel production, and bioremediation) make microalgae suitable candidates for several ecofriendly technologies. Microalgae have developed an extensive spectrum of mechanisms (extracellular and intracellular) to cope with heavy metal toxicity. Their wide-spread occurrence along with their ability to grow and concentrate heavy metals, ascertains their suitability in practical applications of waste-water bioremediation. Heavy metal uptake by microalgae is affirmed to be superior to the prevalent physicochemical processes employed in the removal of toxic heavy metals. In order to evaluate their potential and to fill in the loopholes, it is essential to carry out a critical assessment of the existing microalgal technologies, and realize the need for development of commercially viable technologies involving strategic multidisciplinary approaches. This review summarizes several areas of heavy metal remediation from a microalgal perspective and provides an overview of various practical avenues of this technology. It particularly details heavy metals and microalgae which have been extensively studied, and provides a schematic representation of the mechanisms of heavy metal remediation in microalgae.