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Levels of organic pollutants in vegetables and human exposure through diet: a review

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • Huixiong Lü
  • Quan-Ying Cai
  • Kevin C. Jones
  • Qiao-Yun Zeng
  • Athanasios Katsoyiannis
Journal publication date2014
JournalCritical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology
Number of pages33
Early online date1/03/13
Original languageEnglish


The present review article summarizes the scientific literature on toxic organic microcontaminants in vegetables published during the last 15 years. A wide range of persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic organic pollutants have been studied, namely polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), phthalic acid esters (PAEs) and perfluorinated substances. The available literature data covers the occurrence of organic contaminants in vegetables and the subsequent human exposure, through ingestion.

Benzo[a]pyrene equivalents (BaPeq) were calculated following the concentrations of individual PAH in the literature and then compared. This review also summarizes Toxic Equivalent Concentrations (TEQ) and daily intake of PCDD/Fs, PCBs, PBDEs through vegetable consumption. Temporal and spatial variations in contaminants concentrations are discussed.

The existing scientific literature is critically evaluated regarding gaps, implications and needs for future research.