The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) have set a safe limit for Lead in vegetables at 2.5mg/kg. However, in vegetable samples collected from the floodplain, the level of the metal ranges from 2.8mg/kg to 13.8mg/kg.
Delhiites, be careful of what you eat! A new study by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) found that vegetables grown on the Yamuna floodplain contain high doses of Lead. On prolonged consumption of this toxic metal, a range of diseases could be triggered including Cancer and it can also damage organs. According to an HT report, these vegetables are supplied to large wholesale mandis across Delhi such as the ones in Azadpur, Okhla, Ghazipur. These vegetables are also distributed further to be sold at weekly markets as well as by local vendors across the city. The highest concentration of such vegetables has been found in east Delhi.
According to the report, the heaviest Lead contamination was found in Coriander collected from Geeta Colony in east Delhi. In all vegetables collected from vendors, Lead levels were found to be above the standard in all vegetables, except for Cabbage. The highest Lead level was found in spinach (14.1 mg/kg). The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) have set a safe limit for Lead in vegetables at 2.5mg/kg. However, in vegetable samples collected from the floodplain, the level of the metal ranges from 2.8mg/kg to 13.8mg/kg.
SK Goyal, senior principal scientist and head of NEERI, was quoted in the report saying that samples of at least seven types of winter vegetables were collected from Usmanpur, Mayur Vihar and Geeta Colony. The samples were tested for Lead, Nickel, Mercury, and Cadmium and the lead level was found to be higher than Indian permissible limits. While the level of other metals was within the limits. According to Goyal, the source of lead could be industries dealing in paint, batteries, automobile parts and polythene. Also, other kinds of usage of Lead-based compounds may be potential sources, Goyal added.
According to the study, heavy-metal toxicity can cause various health problems like lower energy levels, damage the functioning of the lungs, brain, liver, and kidneys. It may also lead to damage of the blood composition as well as other important body organs. Moreover, exposure to these metals for a long period of time can even cause cancer.
Considering that only 2% of the Yamuna’s stretch passes through the national capital, it receives nearly 70% of the Capital’s polluted water. In the year 2015, the cultivation of edible crops and fodder on the floodplain was banned by the NGT, citing such vegetables were highly contaminated. Despite the ban, the practice still continues, the report said.