The health risk of the agricultural production in potentially contaminated sites: an environmental-health risk analysis
AbstractRural areas are often interested by pollution phenomena generated by agricultural activities with a high use of pesticides and/or by anthropic activities, such as industrial plants or illegal waste disposal sites, which may cause even long-range contamination. The risk for human health from the pollutants present in the environment can be quantitatively evaluated by the environmental health risk analysis set out in the Italian Legislative Decree no. 152/2006 (Italian Regulation, 2006). This analysis is the best technical-normative tool to estimate the health risks linked to the pollutants present in the environment but it does not consider the specificity of agricultural soils or the contamination of agricultural products. This study aims to provide this missing technical-normative data by identifying and applying a suitable methodology to evaluate the health risk caused by the ingestion of agricultural products grown in contaminated soils. The risk analysis was applied to two contaminated areas in southern Italy using an innovative methodology based on widely accepted parameters for the determination of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) soil-plant bio-transfer factor in the case of horticultural crops. In addition, some concentration limits of PAHs in agricultural soils are proposed that may be of help to the competent authorities (health agencies, local authorities) in delineating the areas requiring strict health surveillance of the food products cultivated.
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