Multivariate analysis of accumulation and critical risk analysis of potentially hazardous elements in forage crops

Muhammad Usman, Behzad Murtaza, Natasha Natasha, Muhammad Imran, Ghulam Abbas, Muhammad Amjad, Muhammad Shahid*, Sobhy M. Ibrahim, Gary Owens, Ghulam Murtaza

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Potentially hazardous element (PHE) contamination of aquifers is an issue of global concern, as this not only affects soil and plants but also exerts a negative impact on livestock. The current study assessed the extent of PHE (cadmium, copper, nickel, and lead) contamination of groundwater, soil, and forage crops in Shorkot, Punjab, Pakistan. Low concentrations of PHEs, particularly Cd and Cu, were found in drinking water which remained below detection limits. The concentrations of Ni and Pb in water samples were 0.1 and 0.06 mg L−1, respectively. Calculated risk indices showed that there was a high carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic risk to livestock (sheep and cow/buffalo) from the ingestion of Ni- and Pb-contaminated water. Soil irrigation with contaminated water resulted in PHE accumulation (Cd: 0.4 mg kg−1, Cu: 16.8 mg kg−1, Ni: 17.6 mg kg−1, Pb: 7.7 mg kg−1) in soil and transfer to forage crops. The potential impact of PHE contamination of the groundwater on fodder plants was estimated for animal health by calculating the average daily dose (ADD), the hazard quotient (HQ), and the cancer risk (CR). While none of the PHEs in forage plants showed any carcinogenic or non-carcinogenic risk to livestock, a high exposure risk occurred from contaminated water (HQ: 12.9, CR: 0.02). This study provides baseline data for future research on the risks of PHE accumulation in livestock and their food products. Moreover, future research is warranted to fully understand the transfer of PHEs from livestock products to humans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number139
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Drinking/irrigation water
  • Exposure risk assessment
  • Forage crops
  • Livestock
  • Potentially toxic metals
  • Soil contamination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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