The Neves-Corvo mining complex (MC) situated in southern Portugal exploits one of the most world’s important copper deposits. Agricultural soils surrounding the MC, used by the inhabitants for crop production, contain excessive amounts of As, Cu, Pb, and Zn. Thus, a potential risk to human consumption exists if edible plants grow on these substrata. Arsenic and Pb were not detected in edible samples collected near the MC and 5 km away, but in the leaves—structural or adsorbed onto the surface. In general, Zn was the most mobile element in both contaminated and reference areas as seen by the bioaccumulation factors (BAF). The tolerable upper intake (TUI) values for Cu are a reason of concern, since in 57.1% of the cases, the TUI values are above the recommended upper limit of 5 mg/day, in the case of Ficus carica, Cucurbita pepo, and Phaseolus vulgaris, whereas in 28.6% of the cases, the TUI values are near this limit (C. pepo and Citrus x sinensis). The consumption of such vegetables from these areas must be banned or strongly reduced, since long-term accumulation of Cu can cause a chronic toxicity in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number484
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • Edible plants
  • Estimated daily intake
  • Heavy metals
  • Mining area
  • Risk assessment
  • Tolerable upper intake


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