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Element incorporation in the fraction of water soluble compounds forms the smallest part (7It indicates that only small amount of elements from total element content in soil is bioavailable for plants, but greater part of elements is incorporated in fractions of compounds with low bioavailability. By quantifying 13 elements (As, Cd, Ce, Co, Cs, Cu, La, Ni, Pb, Rb, Sr, V and Zn) in each of fractions the comparison of element bioavailability depending on soil type was done.

3.2.4. Element bioavailability in food chain segment “plant-human” after the case study with lettuce Element bioavailability assessment in food chain segment plant-human is complicated issue affected by various factors – environmental, chemical, biochemical and individual for organism. Therefore only provisional assessment based on revealed data and extrapolations is discussed here. Taking into account the importance of element solubility on the

bioavailability, the fractioning analysis of lettuce samples in three fractions were done:

1) fraction of water soluble compounds; 2) fraction of acid soluble compounds; 3) fraction of reduced forms of compounds. In each fraction 14 elements were quantified (As, Ba, Cd, Ce, Co, Cu, La, Mn, Ni, Pb, Rb, Se, Sr and Zn). In overall it was detected that elements in great extent are bound in fraction of water soluble compounds (47 %) and in fraction of reduced forms of compounds (37 %), while in acid soluble compounds element incorporation was the lowest (15 %). These findings are quite different from those detected at soil fractioning.

Distribution of individual elements reveals that lower bioavailability can be attributed to As, Cd and Sr as their incorporation fraction of water soluble compounds is the lowest (Figure 3.6.).

26 Figure 3.6. Element distribution by fractions in lettuce samples

In fraction of water soluble compounds more are bound (50 %) such elements as Co, Cu, Ni, Pb, Rb and Se, that is in favour for essential elements but may also better bioavailability of potentially toxic elements which can result in consumer contamination risk.

Taking into account these findings in provisional element transfer intensity it can be estimated that for largest part of elements transfer from soil into food plants is fairly low.

However, by increase of element concentration soil also element concentration in grown crops can increase inducing possible risk for consumer. Current findings allow rapid theoretical estimation of food chain contamination risk by elements of concern based on matrix (i.e., soil) properties.

27 Conclusions

Obtained results revealed recognizable influence of several factors (impact of seasonal, site-specific, botanical factors, applied agricultural practice, processing) on the concentration of elements in analysed food samples but pattern of element transfer is not uniformed and depends on composition of foodstuff or foodstuff group in association with environmental conditions within the formation or production process of foodstuff.

Assessment of natural environmental conditions such as seasonality revealed differences in element concentration for analysed food samples of animal origin indicating tight linkage with the agricultural practice applied in production of food.

Indirectly this impact can be associated also with influence of environmental pollution.

Assessment of anthropogenic impact factors such as applied agricultural practice revealed distinctions in the element (e.g., Cd, Co, Na, Ni, Se) composition among the species of vegetables grown under different agricultural conditions that is linked to various tendencies and intensity in use of agrochemicals and fertilizers; however, it is strongly dependent on the crop species.

It is important to emphasize detected differences between organically and conventionally derived foodstuffs that indicate the impact of element composition from environment as well as of natural origin such as geochemical background and of anthropogenic origin as environmental pollution. Conditions of organic food production should be explored for the recognition of possible impact of environmental conditions that can affect food composition.

Comparison of element content in edible and non-edible parts of vegetables revealed that several microelements, including potentially toxic elements (e.g., As, Co, Cr, Pb) are tended to remain in peel while other elements (e.g., Cd, Se, Zn) are taken up by crop tissues and therefore may become food chain contaminants more easily.

Geographical impact on concentration of elements in food cannot be assessed unambiguously as detected distribution of elements, e.g., in honey samples, revealed some geographical differences, but strong correlation with characteristic environmental conditions was not identified. The impact of site-specific factors taking into account the environmental specifics of Latvia could be assessed as more relevant, however, further more specific studies should be implemented.

Experiment of element transfer and bioavailability assessment in food chain segment soil-plant ascertained that the uptake and accumulation of metals and metalloids by food crops is significantly affected by soil organic matter content among the other soil properties. Soil texture can be assessed as another important factor that can affect element transfer from soil to plants as well as the selective ability of plant species to accumulate some chemical elements can be accented. The properties of organic substances to bind heavy metals in stable complexes can be developed as a prospective trend for practical use of application of humic substances on metal contaminated soils, e.g., in agricultural lands.

Assessment of element bioavailability data in food chain revealed that only a small part of elements can be available up the food chain from soil to upper segments soil-planthuman. However, cumulative accumulation can occur if element concentration is the environment is high. It can lead to subsequent risk for humans as consumers on the highest segment of food chain. Detected tendencies of element bioavailability dependent on soil composition can be useful tool for risk analysis.

Influence of both natural and anthropogenic environmental conditions may cause food contamination with potentially toxic elements that is the issue of high importance 28 regarding consumers’ safety. Therefore, regional monitoring of food composition is preferable, especially regarding domestic production. In overall, quantitative analysis of food samples revealed the significance of food research within the context of environmental science, chemistry and health sciences, and this investigation has to be developed in the future in larger scale.



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