Accumulation of arsenic in plants from arsenic contaminated irrigation water
Arsenic occurs naturally in the earth's surface and is widely distributed in the environment. Arsenic is commonly encountered in groundwater in different parts of the world due to natural processes as well as from anthropogenic activities. Groundwater and surface water contamination by arsenic has been reported from many countries including Turkey. Chronic health effects of arsenic are lesions (spotted keratosis, melanosis, dorsal keratosis, hyper pigmentation, hyper keratosis and gangrene). Long-term exposure to arsenic may cause bladder, lung, skin, kidney, liver and prostate cancer. Due to the high toxic effects on the human health, the maximum contaminant level of arsenic in drinking waters was limited to 10 mu g/L by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and World Health Organization. Arsenic level in drinking water was established as 10 mu g/L in 2008 in Turkey. Arsenic-contaminated groundwater is also used for irrigation for the growing plants and livestock watering as well as the use of drinking water sources. Contaminated water, used in irrigation, could cause dangerous conditions in soil and product quality. Elevated arsenic levels in irrigation water were found to inhibit seed germination and seedling establishment of crops. A number of studies have reported a large variability in arsenic levels in foods, waters, and soils from different countries. Animals can accumulate arsenic via intake of contaminated feed, soil, water and then these animal tissue containing residues of arsenic can be harmful to human health who consumes the meat, visceral organs, and milk. Arsenic accumulation differs between plant species and individuals. The results showed that the trend of arsenic concentration in the plant tissues are root>stem>leaf/fruit. Concentration of arsenic in plants is much higher than the soil and water and it has toxic effects to the other organisms. In this review article accumulation of arsenic in plants and harmful effects on the human health are evaluated.