Heavy Metal(loid) Levels in Paddy Soils and Brown Rice in Korea

  • Kunhikrishnan, Anitha (Chemical Safety Division, Department of Agro-Food Safety, National Academy of Agricultural Science) ;
  • Go, Woo-Ri (Chemical Safety Division, Department of Agro-Food Safety, National Academy of Agricultural Science) ;
  • Park, Jin-Hee (Geologic Environment Division, Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources) ;
  • Kim, Kwon-Rae (Department of Agronomy and Medicinal Plant Resources, Gyeongnam National Institute of Science and Technology) ;
  • Kim, Hyuck-Soo (Chemical Safety Division, Department of Agro-Food Safety, National Academy of Agricultural Science) ;
  • Kim, Kye-Hoon (Department of Environmental Horticulture, University of Seoul) ;
  • Kim, Won-Il (Chemical Safety Division, Department of Agro-Food Safety, National Academy of Agricultural Science) ;
  • Cho, Nam-Jun (Chemical Safety Division, Department of Agro-Food Safety, National Academy of Agricultural Science)
  • Received : 2015.09.24
  • Accepted : 2015.10.26
  • Published : 2015.10.31


There is an increasing concern over heavy metal(loid) contamination of soil in agricultural areas including paddy soils. This study was conducted to monitor the background levels of heavy metal(loid)s, arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), copper (Cu), mercury (Hg), nickel (Ni), lead (Pb), and zinc (Zn) in major rice growing soils and its accumulation in brown rice in Korea. The samples were collected from 82 sites nationwide in the year 2012. The mean and range values of As, Cd, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb, and Zn in paddy soils were 4.41 (0.16-18.9), 0.25 (0.04-0.82), 13.24 (3.46-27.8), 0.047 (0.01-0.20), 13.60 (3.78-35.0), 21.31 (8.47-36.7), and 54.10 $(19.19-103.0)mg\;kg^{-1}$, respectively. This result indicated that the heavy metal(loid) levels in all sampled paddy soils are within the permissible limits of the Korean Soil Environment Conservation Act. The mean and range values of As, Cd, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb, and Zn in brown rice were 0.146 (0.04-0.38), 0.024 (0.003-0.141), 4.27 (1.26-16.98), 0.0024 (0.001-0.008), 0.345 (0.04-2.77), 0.113 (0.04-0.197), and 22.64 $(14.1-35.1)mg\;kg^{-1}$, respectively. The mean and range BCF (bioconcentration factor) values of As, Cd, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb, and Zn in brown rice were 0.101 (0.01-0.91), 0.121 (0.01-0.70), 0.399 (0.05-2.60), 0.061 (0.016-0.180), 0.033 (0.004-0.44), 0.005 (0.003-0.013), and 0.473 (0.19-1.07), respectively, with Zn showing the highest. The results show that the levels of all metal(loid)s in all sampled brown rice are generally within the acceptable limit for human consumption.


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