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Special Issue "Studies on Heavy Metals and Health"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 December 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. David R. Wallace

Department of Pharmacology & Physiology, Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, 1111 West 17th Street, Tulsa, OK 74107-1898, USA
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In today’s society, humans are bombarded on a daily basis by exposure to chemicals or compounds that are toxic. Human exposure to heavy metals from lithogenic or anthropogenic origins occurs via a variety of mechanisms. Lithogenic heavy metals are in the Earth’s crust and can enter the body via inhalation of dust, ingestion of contaminated water, or the consumption of foods or crops which are contaminated. In most instances, the heavy metal concentration is quite small. Some metals, such as cadmium, have an exceptionally long half-life in the human body and will bioaccumulate over extended exposure time. Other exposure sources are in the industrial or manufacturing setting, resulting in excessive contamination of the environment with industrial waste, or pollution (anthropogenic), or increased exposure to humans via inhalation or dermal absorption. As concentrations of the heavy metal increases, a wide range of health-related changes occur. Many of the heavy metals are known carcinogens. Additionally, metal-dependent damage to multiple organ systems can occur with primary targets being the kidneys, liver, brain and other rapidly dividing cells. The acceptable level of exposure has been reduced for many of these heavy metals as our understanding has improved. There is much more that needs to be done to further our understanding of the cellular action of heavy metals and how complex metal exposures (more than one metal) may interact within the human body.

For this Special Issue on “Studies on Heavy Metals and Health,” we are interested in original research, case studies and review articles examining the effect of heavy metals on human health. These reports can focus on lithogenic or anthropogenic sources of heavy metals, or a combination of both. Studies which examine exposure to more than one heavy metal simultaneously are of particular interest. The goal of this Special Issue is to form a repository of current and diverse work investigating the health effects associated with exposure to heavy metals.

Prof. David R. Wallace
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • lithogenic
  • cadmium
  • arsenic
  • mercury
  • lead
  • copper
  • zinc
  • anthropogenic
  • mining
  • pollution

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Effect of Liming with Various Water Regimes on Both Immobilization of Cadmium and Improvement of Bacterial Communities in Contaminated Paddy: A Field Experiment
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(3), 498; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16030498
Received: 16 December 2018 / Revised: 30 January 2019 / Accepted: 31 January 2019 / Published: 11 February 2019
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Abstract
Cadmium (Cd) in paddy soil is one of the most harmful potentially toxic elements threatening human health. In order to study the effect of lime combined with intermittent and flooding conditions on the soil pH, Cd availability and its accumulation in tissues at [...] Read more.
Cadmium (Cd) in paddy soil is one of the most harmful potentially toxic elements threatening human health. In order to study the effect of lime combined with intermittent and flooding conditions on the soil pH, Cd availability and its accumulation in tissues at the tillering, filling and maturity stages of rice, as well as enzyme activity and the microbial community in contaminated soil, a field experiment was conducted. The results showed that liming under flooding conditions is a more suitable strategy for in situ remediation of Cd-contaminated paddy soil than intermittent conditions. The availability of Cd in soils was closely related to the duration of flooding. Liming was an effective way at reducing available Cd in flooding soil because it promotes the transformation of Cd in soil from acid-extractable to reducible fraction or residual fraction during the reproductive growth period of rice. Compared with control, after liming, the concentration of Cd in brown rice was reduced by 34.9% under intermittent condition while reduced by 55.8% under flooding condition. Meanwhile, phosphatase, urease, and invertase activities in soil increased by 116.7%, 61.4% and 28.8%, and 41.3%, 46.5% and 20.8%, respectively. The high urease activity in tested soils could be used to assess soil recovery with liming for the remediation of contaminated soil. Soil microbial diversity was determined by the activities of soil acid phosphatase, urease and available Cd by redundancy analysis (RDA). The results indicated that the problem of Cd-contaminated paddy soil could achieve risk control of agricultural planting by chemical treatment such as lime, combined with various water regimes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studies on Heavy Metals and Health)
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Open AccessArticle Zinc and Cadmium Mapping in the Apical Shoot and Hypocotyl Tissues of Radish by High-Resolution Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (NanoSIMS) after Short-Term Exposure to Metal Contamination
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(3), 373; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16030373
Received: 7 December 2018 / Revised: 19 January 2019 / Accepted: 23 January 2019 / Published: 29 January 2019
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Abstract
Zinc (as an essential phytonutrient) and cadmium (as a toxic but readily bioavailable nonessential metal for plants) share similar routes for crossing plant biomembranes, although with a substantially different potential for translocation into above-ground tissues. The in situ distribution of these metals in [...] Read more.
Zinc (as an essential phytonutrient) and cadmium (as a toxic but readily bioavailable nonessential metal for plants) share similar routes for crossing plant biomembranes, although with a substantially different potential for translocation into above-ground tissues. The in situ distribution of these metals in plant cells and tissues (particularly intensively-dividing and fast-growing areas) is poorly understood. In this study, 17-day-old radish (Raphanus sativus L.) plants grown in nutrient solution were subjected to short-term (24 h) equimolar contamination (2.2 µM of each 70Zn and Cd) to investigate their accumulation and distribution in the shoot apex (leaf primordia) and edible fleshy hypocotyl tissues. After 24-h exposure, radish hypocotyl had similar concentration (in µg/g dry weight) of 70Zn (12.1 ± 1.1) and total Cd (12.9 ± 0.8), with relatively limited translocation of both metals to shoots (concentrations lower by 2.5-fold for 70Zn and 4.8-fold for Cd) as determined by inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). The in situ Zn/Cd distribution maps created by high-resolution secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS, Cameca, Gennevilliers, France) imaging corresponded well with the ICP-MS data, confirming a similar pattern and uniform distribution of 70Zn and Cd across the examined areas. Both applied techniques can be powerful tools for quantification (ICP-MS) and localisation and visualisation (NanoSIMS) of some ultra-trace isotopes in the intensively-dividing cells and fast-growing tissues of non-metalophytes even after short-term metal exposure. The results emphasise the importance of the quality of (agro)ecosystem resources (growing media, metal-contaminated soils/waters) in the public health risk, given that, even under low contamination and short-term exposure, some of the most toxic metallic ions (e.g., Cd) can relatively rapidly enter the human food chain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studies on Heavy Metals and Health)
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Open AccessArticle Heavy Metal Concentrations in the Groundwater of the Barcellona-Milazzo Plain (Italy): Contributions from Geogenic and Anthropogenic Sources
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(2), 285; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16020285
Received: 21 November 2018 / Revised: 4 January 2019 / Accepted: 17 January 2019 / Published: 21 January 2019
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Abstract
We collected and analysed 58 samples of groundwater from wells in the Barcellona-Milazzo Plain, one of the most important coastal aquifers of Sicily (Italy), to determine major, minor, and trace element concentrations. In this area, geogenic and anthropogenic sources of heavy metals and [...] Read more.
We collected and analysed 58 samples of groundwater from wells in the Barcellona-Milazzo Plain, one of the most important coastal aquifers of Sicily (Italy), to determine major, minor, and trace element concentrations. In this area, geogenic and anthropogenic sources of heavy metals and other pollutants co-act, making the individuation of the main pollution sources difficult. Our work was aimed at the application of geostatistical criteria for discriminating between these pollution sources. We used probability plots for separating anomalous values from background concentrations, which were plotted on maps and related to possible sources of pollutants. Our results indicate that hydrothermal fluid circulation and the water–rock interaction of country rocks that host mineralized ore deposits generate a significant flux of heavy metals to groundwater, as well as anthropogenic sources like intense agriculture and industrial activities. In particular, NO3, F, and Ni exceed the Maximum Admitted Concentrations (MACs) established by the WHO and Italian legislation for drinking-water. The spatial distributions of geogenic and anthropogenic sources were so deeply interlocked that their separation was not easy, also employing geostatistical tools. This complex scenario makes the implementation of human health risk mitigation actions difficult, since the flow of pollutants is in many cases controlled by simple water–rock interaction processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studies on Heavy Metals and Health)
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Open AccessArticle Toxic Effect of Acute Cadmium and Lead Exposure in Rat Blood, Liver, and Kidney
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(2), 274; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16020274
Received: 15 December 2018 / Revised: 15 January 2019 / Accepted: 16 January 2019 / Published: 18 January 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1281 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Background: Cadmium and lead are widespread and non-biodegradable pollutants of great concern to human health. In real life scenarios, we are exposed to mixtures of chemicals rather than single chemicals, and it is therefore of paramount importance to assess their toxicity. In [...] Read more.
Background: Cadmium and lead are widespread and non-biodegradable pollutants of great concern to human health. In real life scenarios, we are exposed to mixtures of chemicals rather than single chemicals, and it is therefore of paramount importance to assess their toxicity. In this study, we investigated the toxicity of Cd and Pb alone and as a mixture in an animal model of acute exposure. Methods: Experimental groups received a single treatment of aqueous solution of Cd-chloride (15 and 30 mg/kg body weight (b.w.) and Pb-acetate (150 mg/kg b.w.), while the mixture group received 15 mg Cd/kg b.w. and 150 mg Pb/kg b.w. Toxic effects of individual metals and their mixture were investigated on hematological and biochemical parameters, and the redox status in the plasma, liver, and kidneys of treated Wistar rats. Results: Tissue-specific changes were recorded in various parameters of oxidative damage, while the accumulation of metals in tissues accompanied the disturbances of both hematological and biochemical parameters. It was observed that the level of toxic metals in tissues had a different distribution pattern after mixture and single exposure. Conclusions: Comprehensive observations suggest that exposure to Cd and Pb mixtures produces more pronounced effects compared to the response observed after exposure to single metal solutions. However, further research is needed to confirm toxicokinetic or toxicodynamic interactions between these two toxic metals in the organisms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studies on Heavy Metals and Health)
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Open AccessArticle Composition of Metallic Elements and Size Distribution of Fine and Ultrafine Particles in a Steelmaking Factory
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(6), 1192; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15061192
Received: 26 April 2018 / Revised: 1 June 2018 / Accepted: 4 June 2018 / Published: 7 June 2018
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (3059 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Background: The characteristics of aerosol, in particular particle size and chemical composition, can have an impact on human health. Particle size distribution and chemical composition is a necessary parameter in occupational exposure assessment conducted in order to understand possible health effects. The aim [...] Read more.
Background: The characteristics of aerosol, in particular particle size and chemical composition, can have an impact on human health. Particle size distribution and chemical composition is a necessary parameter in occupational exposure assessment conducted in order to understand possible health effects. The aim of this study was to characterize workplace airborne particulate matter in a metallurgical setting by synergistically using two different approaches; Methodology: Analysis of inhalable fraction concentrations through traditional sampling equipment and ultrafine particles (UFP) concentrations and size distribution was conducted by an Electric Low-Pressure Impactor (ELPI+™). The determination of metallic elements (ME) in particles was carried out by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry; Results: Inhalable fraction and ME concentrations were below the limits set by Italian legislation and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH, 2017). The median of UFP was between 4.00 × 104 and 2.92 × 105 particles/cm3. ME concentrations determined in the particles collected by ELPI show differences in size range distribution; Conclusions: The adopted synergistic approach enabled a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the particles in steelmaking factories. The results could lead to a better knowledge of occupational exposure characterization, in turn affording a better understanding of occupational health issues due to metal fumes exposure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studies on Heavy Metals and Health)
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Open AccessArticle Heavy Metals in Notifications of Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(2), 365; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15020365
Received: 22 December 2017 / Revised: 7 February 2018 / Accepted: 13 February 2018 / Published: 20 February 2018
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (307 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Heavy metals represent the fourth most often notified hazard category in the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) from 1980–2016. The goal of the study was to examine the similarities in notifications of particular heavy metals within the RASFF year, product [...] Read more.
Heavy metals represent the fourth most often notified hazard category in the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) from 1980–2016. The goal of the study was to examine the similarities in notifications of particular heavy metals within the RASFF year, product category, notifying country, country of origin, notification basis, notification type, distribution status, risk decision, and action taken, taking into account the particular product type, such as food, food contact material, and feed. The data originated from the RASFF database. Cluster analysis on pivot tables was applied using joining and two-way joining methods. Most notifications concerned food, in which the highest number were related to mercury, cadmium, chromium, lead, arsenic, and nickel. Notifications were mainly related to fish and food contact materials, in addition to fruits and vegetables, seafood, and dietetic food. The number of notifications decreased in 2015 and 2016. The majority of products were notified by Italy, Spain, Germany, and France. The notified products originated mainly from China and Spain. The notification was usually based on official controls on the market, as well as border controls. The notification types were mainly information, alert, and border rejections. Products were not frequently distributed due to distribution restriction to the notifying country or the possibility of distribution to the market. A risk decision was not usually made. The taken actions included re-dispatch of products, withdrawal from the market, or destruction. The data on heavy metals from the RASFF database can help European and national authorities in shaping public health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studies on Heavy Metals and Health)
Open AccessArticle Brief Report: Lead Levels in Selected Electronic Cigarettes from Canada and the United States
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(1), 154; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15010154
Received: 4 December 2017 / Revised: 12 January 2018 / Accepted: 17 January 2018 / Published: 19 January 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (504 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Few published studies have investigated the presence of lead in the e-liquid of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). Lead inhalation is associated with increased risk of stroke, heart disease, and other diseases. This study used a novel application of graphite furnace technology to [...] Read more.
Few published studies have investigated the presence of lead in the e-liquid of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). Lead inhalation is associated with increased risk of stroke, heart disease, and other diseases. This study used a novel application of graphite furnace technology to compare the concentration of lead between e-liquids of different packaging and product designs using e-liquids that are or were commercially available in the United States and Canada. Eleven nicotine-free disposable ENDS devices and 12 bottled refill solutions that contained nicotine were purchased from retailers in Canada and the United States between 2015 and 2017. E-liquids extracted from the disposable products and individual containers were analyzed for lead content by graphite furnace using atomic absorption detection. The lead concentration of open-wick ENDS devices ranged from 25.2 ppb to 838.4 ppb, with a standard deviation of 187.4 ppb. None of the bottled e-liquids contained quantifiable levels of lead. This study found that quantifiable levels of lead are present in certain disposable e-cigarette devices, and there is evidence from this study that the design of ENDS devices may contribute to lead exposure. These findings suggest that lead testing should be incorporated into future chemical analyses of ENDS devices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studies on Heavy Metals and Health)
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Open AccessArticle Health Risk Assessment of Trace Metals in Various Environmental Media, Crops and Human Hair from a Mining Affected Area
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(12), 1595; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14121595
Received: 24 November 2017 / Revised: 12 December 2017 / Accepted: 14 December 2017 / Published: 18 December 2017
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (2281 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Long term exposure to trace metals in various media is of great concern for people living in known pollution sources, such as mining and industrial activities. Health risk assessment and human hair analysis can provide important information for local environmental management. Information on [...] Read more.
Long term exposure to trace metals in various media is of great concern for people living in known pollution sources, such as mining and industrial activities. Health risk assessment and human hair analysis can provide important information for local environmental management. Information on distribution characteristics of trace metals in soil, water, sediment, air, local crops, and human hair from a typical mining area in southern China was collected. Results show there exists severely trace metal contamination in soil, sediment, and air. Arsenic and Pb contents in the local children’s hair are higher than the upper reference values, and the accumulation of residents’ hair trace metals shows great correlation with the ingestion and inhalation pathways. Arsenic contributes 52.27% and 58.51% to the total non-cancer risk of adults and children, respectively. The cancer risk of Cd in adults and children are 4.66 and 3.22 times higher than the safe level, respectively. Ingestion exposure pathway of trace metals largely contributes to the total non-cancer and cancer effect. The metals As, Cd, and Pb are major risk sources and pollutants that should be given priority for management, and ingestion pathway exposure to trace metals through soil and crops should be controlled. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studies on Heavy Metals and Health)
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Open AccessArticle Dietary Intake of Cadmium, Lead and Mercury and Its Association with Bone Health in Healthy Premenopausal Women
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(12), 1437; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14121437
Received: 27 September 2017 / Revised: 27 October 2017 / Accepted: 28 October 2017 / Published: 23 November 2017
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (349 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The bone is one of the relevant target organs of heavy metals, and heavy metal toxicity is associated with several degenerative processes, such osteoporosis and bone mineral alterations, that could lead to fractures. We aimed to study a presumed relationship between bone density, [...] Read more.
The bone is one of the relevant target organs of heavy metals, and heavy metal toxicity is associated with several degenerative processes, such osteoporosis and bone mineral alterations, that could lead to fractures. We aimed to study a presumed relationship between bone density, evaluated by quantitative bone ultrasound (QUS), dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) and the dietary intake of cadmium, lead and mercury in healthy premenopausal women. A total of 158 healthy, non-smoking, premenopausal women were incorporated into the study. A validated food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) was administered to assess intake during the preceding seven days. The median predicted dietary cadmium intake among the 158 women studied was 25.29 μg/day (18.62–35.00) and 2.74 μg/kg body weight/week (b.w./w) (1.92–3.83). Dietary lead intake was 43.85 μg/day (35.09–51.45) and 4.82 μg/kg b.w./w (3.67–6.13). The observed dietary mercury intake was 9.55 μg/day (7.18–13.57) and 1.02 μg/kg b.w./w (0.71–1.48). Comparisons, in terms of heavy metal intake, showed no significant results after further adjusting for energy intake. No statistically significant correlations between heavy metal intake and the QUS, DXA and pQCT parameters were observed. Levels of dietary exposure of cadmium, lead and mercury were mostly within the recommendations. We did not find associations between the QUS, DXA and pQCT parameters and the dietary intake of the studied heavy metals in healthy premenopausal women. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studies on Heavy Metals and Health)

Review

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Open AccessFeature PaperReview C. elegans—An Emerging Model to Study Metal-Induced RAGE-Related Pathologies
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(7), 1407; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15071407
Received: 8 June 2018 / Revised: 29 June 2018 / Accepted: 3 July 2018 / Published: 4 July 2018
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Abstract
The receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE), a multi-ligand receptor, is mostly associated with promoting inflammation and oxidative stress. In addition to advanced glycation end products (AGEs), its ligands include High mobility group box 1 protein (HMGB-1), S-100 proteins and beta-sheet fibrils. [...] Read more.
The receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE), a multi-ligand receptor, is mostly associated with promoting inflammation and oxidative stress. In addition to advanced glycation end products (AGEs), its ligands include High mobility group box 1 protein (HMGB-1), S-100 proteins and beta-sheet fibrils. The effects of several metals and metalloids on RAGE expression and activation have been recently studied: in vivo and in vitro exposure to methylmercury, selenium, zinc, manganese, and arsenic was associated with a variety of RAGE-related alterations and behavioral impairments, which are mostly dependent upon the administration procedure (local vs. systemic) and age during exposure. Recently, C. elegans has been proposed as a potential novel model for studying RAGE-related pathologies; preliminary data regarding such model and its potential contribution to the study of metal-induced RAGE-related pathologies are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studies on Heavy Metals and Health)
Open AccessReview A Review of Environmental Contamination and Health Risk Assessment of Wastewater Use for Crop Irrigation with a Focus on Low and High-Income Countries
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(5), 895; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15050895
Received: 27 March 2018 / Revised: 22 April 2018 / Accepted: 24 April 2018 / Published: 1 May 2018
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (2238 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Population densities and freshwater resources are not evenly distributed worldwide. This has forced farmers to use wastewater for the irrigation of food crops. This practice presents both positive and negative effects with respect to agricultural use, as well as in the context of [...] Read more.
Population densities and freshwater resources are not evenly distributed worldwide. This has forced farmers to use wastewater for the irrigation of food crops. This practice presents both positive and negative effects with respect to agricultural use, as well as in the context of environmental contamination and toxicology. Although wastewater is an important source of essential nutrients for plants, many environmental, sanitary, and health risks are also associated with the use of wastewater for crop irrigation due to the presence of toxic contaminants and microbes. This review highlights the harmful and beneficial impacts of wastewater irrigation on the physical, biological, and chemical properties of soil (pH, cations and anions, organic matter, microbial activity). We delineate the potentially toxic element (PTEs) build up in the soil and, as such, their transfer into plants and humans. The possible human health risks associated with the use of untreated wastewater for crop irrigation are also predicted and discussed. We compare the current condition of wastewater reuse in agriculture and the associated environmental and health issues between developing and developed countries. In addition, some integrated sustainable solutions and future perspectives are also proposed, keeping in view the regional and global context, as well as the grounded reality of wastewater use for crop production, sanitary and planning issues, remedial techniques, awareness among civil society, and the role of the government and the relevant stakeholders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studies on Heavy Metals and Health)
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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health EISSN 1660-4601 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
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