John Libbey Eurotext

Environnement, Risques & Santé


Assessment of the contamination of vegetables grown in potentially polluted environments: State of the art and new tools Volume 7, issue 3, Mai-Juin 2008


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A2E-ENSAT-INPT, Laboratoire d’agronomie environnement et écotoxicologie, École nationale supérieure d’agronomie de Toulouse, Institut national polytechnique de Toulouse, Avenue de l’Agrobiopole, BP 107, Auzeville-Tolosane, 31326 Castanet-Tolosane cedex, Institut national de l’environnement industriel et des risques (Ineris), Direction des risques chroniques, Parc Technologique ALATA, BP 2, 60550 Verneuil-en-Halatte, Agence de l’environnement et de la maîtrise de l’énergie (Ademe), Département Sites et sols pollués, 20, avenue du Grésillé, BP 90406, 49004 Angers cedex 01, ISA, 48, boulevard Vauban, 59046 Lille cedex, Cnam-IHIE Ouest, 122, rue de Frémur, 49001 Angers cedex 01

The massive use of heavy metals and metalloids and their persistence in the environment can lead to contamination of ecosystems and their living organisms, including humans through the food they eat and especially their consumption of vegetables grown in kitchen gardens contaminated by these elements. Several approaches can be used to evaluate the contaminant contents of the edible parts of these vegetables (direct measurement, models of pollutant transfer, etc.). Until now, environmental risk assessors have had few operational tools to guide them through this analysis. The Agence de l’environnement et de la maîtrise de l’énergie (Ademe) and the Institut national de l’environnement industriel et des risques (Ineris), in collaboration with other research institutes, have analysed current practices and evaluated their deficiencies as part of a programme to develop such tools. This article presents an initial synthesis of this work and in particular of two new tools: A standardised sampling protocol for vegetables, intended to provide a global approach integrating the diversity of environments and measuring the contaminants in edible plant parts; A centralized database of information on the transfer of trace metals into the edible parts of vegetables, collected from recent scientific literature and ongoing diagnostic and experimental work. This database will be updated with new articles and reports.