Health Risks of Lead and Cadmium in Different Types of Date Palm Fruits

Jenn Hoskins
23rd May, 2024

Health Risks of Lead and Cadmium in Different Types of Date Palm Fruits

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at Mohammed V University in Rabat found lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd) in Moroccan date fruits
  • Lead was detected in 46.43% of samples, with only one sample exceeding the regulatory limit
  • Cadmium was found in 47.62% of samples, with 20.24% exceeding the European maximum regulatory limit
  • The study indicates minimal non-carcinogenic risks but significant lifetime carcinogenic risks from consuming these dates
The recent study conducted by researchers at Mohammed V University in Rabat aimed to investigate the levels of two toxic trace elements, lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd), in 84 date fruit samples from four Moroccan varieties: Mejhoul, Bouittob, Aziza, and Boufegouss[1]. This research is crucial as it addresses potential health risks associated with the consumption of these date fruits, which are a significant part of the diet in many regions. The study utilized graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry to measure the concentrations of Pb and Cd in the date samples. The results revealed that Pb was detected in 39 out of the 84 samples (46.43%) with concentrations ranging from 0.0001 to 0.118 mg/kg, averaging 0.016 ± 0.0005 mg/kg. Cd was found in 40 samples (47.62%) with levels between 0.0004 and 0.752 mg/kg, averaging 0.079 ± 0.003 mg/kg. Notably, 17 date samples (20.24%) exceeded the European maximum regulatory limit (MRL) for Cd of 0.020 mg/kg, while only one sample (1.19%) surpassed the MRL for Pb of 0.10 mg/kg set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC). The researchers conducted a risk assessment to evaluate the potential health risks from consuming these date fruits. They calculated the hazard quotient (HQ) and hazard index (HI) values, which were found to be below 1, indicating that non-carcinogenic risks from consuming the dates are minimal. However, the cancer risk (CR) levels exceeded acceptable ranges, suggesting a significant lifetime carcinogenic risk for consumers from date-growing regions. This study's findings are consistent with earlier research highlighting the health risks of cadmium and lead exposure. For instance, a study on the Korean population demonstrated that cadmium exposure at current levels could elevate blood pressure and increase the prevalence of hypertension[2]. This aligns with the current study's indication of significant cadmium contamination in date fruits, which could pose similar health risks if consumed regularly. Furthermore, the neurotoxic effects of lead, particularly its impact on cognitive development and neurodegenerative diseases, have been well-documented. Research on rodent models has shown that even low-level lead exposure can impair the development of cortical columns in the brain, potentially leading to reduced intelligence and other cognitive deficits[3]. The present study's findings of lead contamination in date fruits, although largely within regulatory limits, still raise concerns about the long-term health effects, especially given the neurotoxic potential of lead. Additionally, the study on the removal of Pb(II) from aqueous solutions using sawdust activated carbon (SDAC) demonstrated that lead contamination is a persistent environmental issue requiring effective mitigation strategies[4]. Although this study focused on water treatment, it underscores the broader challenge of managing lead contamination in various environmental media, including food products. The current study by Mohammed V University provides valuable insights into the contamination levels of lead and cadmium in Moroccan date fruits and their associated health risks. By highlighting the potential carcinogenic risks, it underscores the need for ongoing monitoring and regulation to ensure consumer safety. The findings also contribute to the broader understanding of the health impacts of toxic metal exposure, reinforcing the importance of addressing environmental and dietary sources of contamination.



Main Study

1) Monitoring and Health Risk Assessment of Lead and Cadmium in Date Palm Fruit Cultivars Growing in Morocco.

Published 22nd May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Cadmium in blood and hypertension.

3) Neonatal lead exposure impairs development of rodent barrel field cortex.

Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Issue: Vol 97, Issue 10, May 2000

4) Adsorption of Pb(II) and Pb(II)-citric acid on sawdust activated carbon: Kinetic and equilibrium isotherm studies.

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