Terrestrial environment

Assessment of selenium pollution in agricultural soils in the Xuzhou District,Northwest Jiangsu, China

HUANG Shunsheng , HUA Ming , FENG Jinshun , ZHONG Xinyong , JIN Yang , ZHU Baiwan , LU Hua


Received May 05, 2008,Revised November 02, 2008, Accepted , Available online

Volume 21,2009,Pages 481-487

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Xuzhou City is an important base for coal production and coal-fired power. To evaluate selenium contamination in this area, we sampled agricultural soil, soil profile, irrigation water, bedrock, coal, fly ash, paddy rice, and vegetables from the north of Xuzhou City, and determined their selenium contents. The background level of selenium in the soil profile was 0.08 mg/kg. The selenium concentrations in agricultural soils and irrigation water were in the range of 0.21–4.08 mg/kg and 0.002–0.29 mg/L, respectively. Soils with high selenium content were located closely to coalmines and power plants. The average selenium concentrations in coal and coal fly ash were 5.46 and 2.81 mg/kg, respectively. In contrast, the concentrations of selenium in bedrock and in the soil profile were very low. These results imply that the high selenium level in agricultural soils is mainly caused by anthropogenic activities, rather than by parent material. The arithmetic mean of selenium concentration in paddy rice was 0.116 mg/kg, and in cabbage was 0.05 mg/kg. The selenium concentration in rice was positively correlated with total selenium concentration in soil, suggesting that selenium in soil is readily transferred into the crops. Furthermore, the estimated dietary intake (88.8 g) of selenium from paddy rice and cabbage exceeds the recommended dietary allowance (55 g). Therefore, there is a potential health risk from consumption of local staple food in the study area.

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