Distribution of Cd and Pb Accumulated in Medicinal Plant Roots and Their Cultivation Soils

  • Seo, Byoung-Hwan (Department of Agronomy and Medicinal Plant Resources, Gyeongnam National University of Science and Technology) ;
  • Kim, Hyuck Soo (Chemical Safety Division, National Academy of Agricultural Science) ;
  • Bae, Jun-Sik (Department of Agronomy and Medicinal Plant Resources, Gyeongnam National University of Science and Technology) ;
  • Kim, Won-Il (Chemical Safety Division, National Academy of Agricultural Science) ;
  • Hong, Chang-Ho (Department of Life Science and Environmental Biochemistry, Pusan National University) ;
  • Kim, Kwon-Rae (Department of Agronomy and Medicinal Plant Resources, Gyeongnam National University of Science and Technology)
  • Received : 2015.06.17
  • Accepted : 2015.08.13
  • Published : 2015.08.31


In general, plant roots accumulate more heavy metals than the above ground organs such as leaf, stem, and fruit. This implies that root medicinal plants would be an issue with excessive heavy metal accumulation. Therefore, the current study was carried out to investigate the distribution of heavy metal (focused on Cd and Pb) concentrations in soils and medicinal plant roots grown in different region of Korea. Total 293 samples for each soil and plant were collected along the national wide. Soil pH, total and phytoavailable metal concentrations (1 M $NH_4NO_3$ extracted) in soils were determined and heavy metal concentrations in root of the medicinal plants were analyzed. Heavy metal concentrations of the soil samples studied were not exceeded standard limits legislated in 'Soil Environmental Conservation Act', except 2 samples for Cu. However, substantial amount of Cd was accumulated in medicinal plant roots with 29% samples exceeding the standard limit legislated in 'Pharmaceutical Affairs Act' while all plant samples were lower than the standard limit value for Pb. Also the current study demonstrated that cadmium concentrations in the roots were governed by the phytoavailable Cd in soils, which decreased as soil pH increased. From this result, application of heavy metal immobilization technique using a pH change-induced immobilizing agents can be suggested for safer root medicinal plant production.


Contamination;Food safety;Heavy metal;Phytoavailability


Grant : Research Program for Agricultural Science & Technology Development

Supported by : National Academy of Agricultural Science


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