Lead (Pb) bioavailability in the environment, its exposure and effect

Document Type : Review Article(s)


1 Soil and Water Research Institute, Agricultural Research, Education and Extension Organization (AREEO), Karaj, Iran

2 The Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Dookie Campus, Australia

3 Horticulture and Agronomy Department, Golestan Agricultural and Natural Resources Research and Education Center, Agricultural Research, Education and Extension Organization (AREEO), Gorgan, Iran

4 Citrus and Subtropical Fruit Research Centre, Horticultural Science Research Institute, Agricultural Research, Education and Extension Organization (AREEO), Ramsar 46915, Iran.

5 Indian Council of Agricultural Research-Central Citrus Research Institute, Nagpur, Maharashtra, India



There are many anthropogenic activities that have caused the accumulation of potentially toxic metals (e.g., lead, cadmium, chromium, nickel, arsenic, cobalt, and mercury) in the environment. Lead (Pb) is known as a very toxic and non-biodegradable element that has no metabolic function in living creatures. It can be easily taken up and transferred within plant tissues; consequently, it can easily enter the food chain, causing phytotoxicity, which in turn through different biochemical and enzymatic reactions, can result in severe threats to public health. After entering soil and sediments, Pb may be diffused among soil components and associated with them through different geochemical fractions, which determine the final fate of Pb in terms of bioavailability and uptake by plants. Metal bioavailability in soils is largely dependent on the soil and plant properties and interactions with other elements. In spite of the fact that there are numerous studies on the influence of heavy metals on public health but there are limited studies that consider the role of the soil-plant chain on the final fate of potentially toxic metals in respect to threat the public health. This manuscript defines a joint challenge between agricultural and medical sciences and shows that the soil (as the base of agriculture) affects human health in a variety of ways, with human health being linked to the health of the soil.


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