Soil-plant-animal transfer models to improve soil protection guidelines: A case study from Portugal

S.M. Rodrigues, M.E. Pereira, A.C. Duarte, P.F.A.M. Römkens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Food chain models are essential tools to assess risks of soil contamination in view of product quality including fodder crops and animal products. Here we link soil to plant transfer (SPT) models for potentially toxic elements (PTEs) including As, Ba, Cd, Co, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb, Sb, U and Zn with models describing accumulation in animal organs. Current EU standards for food products and acceptable daily intake levels (ADI) for humans were used as critical limits. The combined model is used to assess the impact of soil contamination on animal health, product quality and human health using data from 100 arable fields. Results indicate that 42 existing arable fields near industrial and mining sites are unsuitable for animal grazing in view of food safety due to elevated intake of Cd, Cu, Hg and Pb by cows and sheep. At 10 sites daily intake levels of As by cows exceeded threshold concentrations regarding the quality of animal products. The food chain model also was used inversely to derive soil threshold concentrations in view of EU fodder standards. Calculated threshold levels in soil for As, Cd, Cu, Pb, Hg and Zn appear to be in line with those proposed or used in other EU countries. As such the approach applied here can form a conceptual basis for a more harmonized risk assessment strategy regarding the protection of animal and human health. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-37
JournalEnvironment International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • potentially toxic elements
  • available pools
  • risk-assessment
  • food-chain
  • part ii
  • cadmium
  • mercury
  • lead
  • metals
  • sheep


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