Heavy Metals Contamination in Agricultural Soil and Rice in Tanzania: A Review
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Heavy metals contamination in agricultural soil is a potential environmental threat to the safety of agricultural food crops such as rice which is consumed by majority of Tanzanians. The aim of this review is to put together available information on sources of heavy metals, their extent of contamination in agricultural soil and in rice, the risk of exposure through rice consumption as well as the relationship between heavy metals contamination in agricultural soils and in rice in Tanzania. There are several methods of determining the concentrations of heavy metals in soils and in rice. These include Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP – MS) and Energy Dispersive X – ray Fluorescence spectrometer (EDXRF). It has been mostly reported that the extent of heavy metals contamination in agricultural soils is influenced by their closeness to mining or industrial areas. The use of river waters in mining areas or wastewater from industries for irrigation has been associated to increasing levels of heavy metals in agricultural soils. The elevated level of heavy metals in agricultural soils leads to their accumulation in crops especially rice which upon consumption poses health effects to human and the ecosystem at large. This review suggests the need for determining the extent of heavy metals contamination in agricultural soils around potential areas such as mining and to link this with exposure assessment on heavy metals through rice consumption in Tanzania. This information is necessary to establish the extent at which rice consumers in Tanzania are at risk of heavy metals exposure.