Metal content evaluation in soils and edible tissues of Allium Fistulosum L. on crops near the Tungurahua volcano

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Jorge Briceño
Evelyn Tonato
Mónica Silva
Mayra Paredes
Arnaldo Armado


The Tungurahua volcano, located in the eastern mountain range of Ecuador, since its reactivation in 1999 has had several phases of volcanic activity, which have produced gas, ash and lava emissions. These emissions release a large amount of metals to nearby soils that are currently used for agricultural purposes. Metal pollution can cause serious problems for human health; while other metals are necessary as nutrients in most agricultural crops. In this investigation, the metal content in agricultural soils of the Quero canton was evaluated, as well as its bioavailability and content in the culture of Allium fistulosum L., in order to obtain information on the impact of potentially polluting metals (cadmium, lead, nickel, strontium, cobalt, copper and zinc) and nutrients (potassium, magnesium, iron and manganese) on crops. For the estimation of total metals in soil an acid digestion was performed; for bioavailable metals an extractant mixture (EDTA-Triethanolamine-CaCl2, pH 7) was used and for the branch onion a calcination followed by acid digestion was carried out. The quantification of the metals was carried out by flame atomic absorption spectroscopy or graphite furnace. The results showed that the metal content, both in the soil samples and in the branch onion, was below the maximum values allowed in the local regulations for all the metals studied. In addition,the intake of the metal by the branch onion was independent of the bioavailable fraction.
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