Environmental Risk Assessment of Heavy Metals in Selected Medicinal Herbs and Spices
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College of Environmental Science, Al-Qasim Green University, Al Qasim, Iraq
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Saad Wali Alwan   

College of Environmental Science, Al-Qasim Green University, Al Qasim, Iraq
J. Ecol. Eng. 2023; 24(6):376-384
Spices and medicinal herbs is an important route for human exposure to toxic metals. This study determined total concentrations of heavy metals and risk assessment of ten types of herbs used in cooking, spices and medicinal plants available in local markets of Babylon province/Iraq. Concentrations of Cu, Ni, Zn, Pb, Co, As, Cd, Cr and Hg were estimated by ICP/Mass to identify toxic metals in the used portion of selected spices and medicinal plants. The average concentrations of these elements were within the limits allowed by the WHO. Culinary herbs and spices contained significantly Cu˃Ni˃Zn˃Pb˃Co˃As˃Cd˃Cr˃Hg. However, the concentrations of copper, zinc and nickel, respectively, were higher in all herbal samples. The study recorded the highest concentrations in the aerial parts of plants from the total elemental content of Thymus vulgaris leaves (109.4μg/g). and barks of Cinnamomum verum was recorded (43μg/g). Non-carcinogenic risks and estimated daily consumption of these herbs were assessed on the basis of the target hazard quotient (THQ) and Hazard Index (HI). THQ values for individual minerals were more than one indicating health risks for nickel (15.5) Mentha verticillata leaves, (12.3) for Matricaria chamomilla, other metals Cu, Co, Pb and Zn were recorded THQ˃1which considered unsafe for human consumption. The mean Hazard Index (HI) for the nine metal elements is ˃1for all plants except Zingiber officinale, indicating that there are non-carcinogenic risks from these nine elements. this study provides a scientific basis to guide the safe consumption of certain culinary herbs and spices, it suggest potential health concerns for consumers of these products on a daily basis over a prolonged life span.
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