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      Review of Heavy Metals Pollution in China in Agricultural and Urban Soils


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          The concentrations of heavy metals in soil and potential risks to the environment and public health are receiving increased attention in China.


          The objective of this paper is to review and analyze heavy metals soil contamination in urban and agricultural areas and on a national scale in China.


          Initially, data on soil heavy metals concentration levels were gathered from previous studies and narratively analyzed. A further statistical analysis was performed using the geo-accumulation index (I geo), Nemerow integrated pollution index (NIPI), mean, standard deviation (SD), skewness and kurtosis. Pollution levels were calculated and tabulated to illustrate overall spatial variations. In addition, pollution sources, remedial measures and impact of soil contamination as well as limitations are addressed.


          The concentration level of heavy metals was above the natural background level in most areas of China. The problem was more prevalent in urban soils than agricultural soils. At the national level, the soil in most of the southern provinces and Beijing were heavily polluted. Even though the pollution condition based on I geo was promising, the Nemerow integrated pollution level was the most worrisome. The soils in about 53% of the provinces were moderately to heavily polluted (NIPI>2). The effects were noticed in terms of both public and ecological health risks. The major sources were waste gas, wastewater, and hazardous residuals from factories and agricultural inputs such as pesticides. Efforts have been made to reduce the concentrations and health risks of heavy metals, including policy interventions, controlling contamination sources, reducing the phytoavailability of heavy metals, selecting and rearing of grain cultivars with low risk of contamination, paddy water and fertilizer management, land use changes, phytoremediation and engineering techniques.


          China is experiencing rapid economic and technological advancements. This increases the risk of heavy metals contamination of soil. If serious attention is not paid to this problem, soil toxicity and biological accumulation will continue to threaten the sustainability of China's development.

          Competing Interests.

          The authors declare no competing financial interests

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          Most cited references91

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          Soil contamination in China: current status and mitigation strategies.

          China faces great challenges in protecting its soil from contamination caused by rapid industrialization and urbanization over the last three decades. Recent nationwide surveys show that 16% of the soil samples, 19% for the agricultural soils, are contaminated based on China’s soil environmental quality limits, mainly with heavy metals and metalloids. Comparisons with other regions of the world show that the current status of soil contamination, based on the total contaminant concentrations, is not worse in China. However, the concentrations of some heavy metals in Chinese soils appear to be increasing at much greater rates. Exceedance of the contaminant limits in food crops is widespread in some areas, especially southern China, due to elevated inputs of contaminants, acidic nature of the soil and crop species or cultivars prone to heavy metal accumulation. Minimizing the transfer of contaminants from soil to the food chain is a top priority. A number of options are proposed, including identification of the sources of contaminants to agricultural systems, minimization of contaminant inputs, reduction of heavy metal phytoavailability in soil with liming or other immobilizing materials, selection and breeding of low accumulating crop cultivars, adoption of appropriate water and fertilizer management, bioremediation, and change of land use to grow nonfood crops. Implementation of these strategies requires not only technological advances, but also social-economic evaluation and effective enforcement of environmental protection law.
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            Nramp5 is a major transporter responsible for manganese and cadmium uptake in rice.

            Paddy rice (Oryza sativa) is able to accumulate high concentrations of Mn without showing toxicity; however, the molecular mechanisms underlying Mn uptake are unknown. Here, we report that a member of the Nramp (for the Natural Resistance-Associated Macrophage Protein) family, Nramp5, is involved in Mn uptake and subsequently the accumulation of high concentrations of Mn in rice. Nramp5 was constitutively expressed in the roots and encodes a plasma membrane-localized protein. Nramp5 was polarly localized at the distal side of both exodermis and endodermis cells. Knockout of Nramp5 resulted in a significant reduction in growth and grain yield, especially when grown at low Mn concentrations. This growth reduction could be partially rescued by supplying high concentrations of Mn but not by the addition of Fe. Mineral analysis showed that the concentration of Mn and Cd in both the roots and shoots was lower in the knockout line than in wild-type rice. A short-term uptake experiment revealed that the knockout line lost the ability to take up Mn and Cd. Taken together, Nramp5 is a major transporter of Mn and Cd and is responsible for the transport of Mn and Cd from the external solution to root cells.
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              Gene limiting cadmium accumulation in rice.

              Intake of toxic cadmium (Cd) from rice caused Itai-itai disease in the past and it is still a threat for human health. Therefore, control of the accumulation of Cd from soil is an important food-safety issue, but the molecular mechanism for the control is unknown. Herein, we report a gene (OsHMA3) responsible for low Cd accumulation in rice that was isolated from a mapping population derived from a cross between a high and low Cd-accumulating cultivar. The gene encodes a transporter belonging to the P(1B)-type ATPase family, but shares low similarity with other members. Heterologous expression in yeast showed that the transporter from the low-Cd cultivar is functional, but the transporter from the high-Cd cultivar had lost its function, probably because of the single amino acid mutation. The transporter is mainly expressed in the tonoplast of root cells at a similar level in both the low and high Cd-accumulating cultivars. Overexpression of the functional gene from the low Cd-accumulating cultivar selectively decreased accumulation of Cd, but not other micronutrients in the grain. Our results indicated that OsHMA3 from the low Cd-accumulating cultivar limits translocation of Cd from the roots to the above-ground tissues by selectively sequestrating Cd into the root vacuoles.

                Author and article information

                J Health Pollut
                J Health Pollut
                J Health Pollut
                Journal of Health & Pollution
                Black Smith Institute
                June 2018
                6 June 2018
                : 8
                : 18
                : 180607
                [1]College of Geographical Science, Department of GIS and Cartography, Fujian Normal University, China
                Author notes
                © 2018 Pure Earth

                This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

                : 23 November 2017
                : 20 April 2018
                Page count
                Pages: 14
                Narrative Review

                heavy metal,background value,pollution level,spatial distribution,remedial measures


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