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Consuming Blackberry as a Traditional Nutraceutical Resource from an Area with High Anthropogenic Impact

1
Department of Food Engineering, University of Oradea, Oradea, Bihor 410048, Romania
2
Technological High School Ștefan Manciulea, Blaj, Alba 515400, Romania
3
Transilvania University of Brașov, Faculty of Silviculture and Forest Engineering, 500123 Brașov, Romania
4
Department of Forestry and Forest Engineering, University of Oradea, Oradea, Bihor 410048, Romania
5
Plant Protection Department, University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, Cluj-Napoca, Cluj 400372, Romania
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2019, 10(3), 246; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10030246
Received: 31 January 2019 / Revised: 23 February 2019 / Accepted: 5 March 2019 / Published: 11 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest, Foods and Nutrition)
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Abstract

The most serious quality issue of natural resources for human consumption or medicinal purposes is the contamination with pollutants harmful to consumers. Common blackberry (Rubus fruticosus L.) is a sought-after nutraceutical and an important component in herbal medicine in many places around the globe. The present study aims to analyze the level of heavy metal bioaccumulation in blackberry organs, as well as its spatial distribution in two consecutive years immediately after the interruption of the extended activity of the industrial source of pollution. The research was conducted in one of the most polluted areas in Romania and Eastern Europe, within a 26 km radius of the source of pollution. The Pb, Cd, Cu, and Zn concentrations in the leaves, flowers, and unwashed blackberry fruits were analyzed spectrophotometrically through flame atomic absorption spectroscopy (FAAS). The results show that blackberry is an important bioaccumulator of these heavy metals—71% of the Pb concentration values and 100% of the Cd concentration values exceeded the World Health Organization thresholds by up to 29 and 15 times, respectively. Also, the leaves are the largest reservoirs of Pb and Zn (the median values: 51.4 mg/kg dry weight and 105.2 mg/kg d.w., respectively), and the flowers contained the largest quantities of Cd and Cu (2.54 mg/kg d.w. and 11.3 mg/kg d.w., respectively). The Pb concentrations decreased by a power function in relation to the distance from the source of pollution. The implications of these results on the safety of the use of blackberry are discussed. The urgent necessity for food education of the local population which consumes contaminated nutraceutical products is emphasized. View Full-Text
Keywords: heavy metal contamination; herbal medicine; historically polluted area; wild food; blackberry heavy metal contamination; herbal medicine; historically polluted area; wild food; blackberry
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Vlad, I.A.; Goji, G.; Dinulică, F.; Bartha, S.; Vasilescu, M.M.; Mihăiescu, T. Consuming Blackberry as a Traditional Nutraceutical Resource from an Area with High Anthropogenic Impact. Forests 2019, 10, 246.

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