Concentrations of Some Trace Elements in Vegetables Sold at Maun Market, Botswana

Keagile Bati, Oarabile Mogobe, Wellington R. L. Masamba


Contamination of vegetables with toxic metals is one of the most important contributing factors to ill health throughout the world, more so because vegetables are considered essential for human health and their consumption is highly recommended by health authorities. The aim of this study was to determine the concentrations of selected essential elements (Fe, Cu, Mn, Mo, Zn) and toxic elements (As, Cd, Cr, Pb) in common vegetables sold for human consumption in supermarkets and open market of Maun village, Botswana. Five vegetables (cabbage, rape, tomatoes, onions and potatoes) were purchased from different selling points, washed with de-ionised water, cut into small pieces and digested with aqua regia on a block digester, following the US. EPA method 200 - 7 and analysed for metal content using Inductively Coupled Plasma - Atomic Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-AES). The results showed that concentrations of essential and toxic metals varied with the type of vegetable and also with the market category (supermarket or street vendor). The highest concentration of essential elements was obtained from cabbage with a Zn concentration of 135.4mg/Kg and the lowest was from onion with a Mo concentration of 1.35mg/Kg. For toxic elements the highest concentration was obtained from rape vegetable with a Pb concentration of 4.73mg/Kg and the lowest from the same vegetable with Cr concentration below the detection limit. Also observed was that leafy vegetables, especially cabbage, had the highest concentrations of most trace metals. It was concluded that vegetables sold in Maun had sufficient levels of essential elements but also some had high concentrations of toxic metals. We thus recommend consumption of vegetables from the studied markets with reduced frequency to avoid metal poisoning.


trace metals, vegetables, aqua regia

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Journal of Food Research   ISSN 1927-0887 (Print)   ISSN 1927-0895 (Online)  E-mail:

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