Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig 2016, 67(3): 309-314

Heavy metals hazards from Nigerian spices.
[Heavy metals hazards from Nigerian spices.]

R.N. Asomugha, N.A. Udowelle, S.J. Offor, Ch. J. Njoku, I.V. Ofoma, Ch.Ch. Chukwuogor, O.E. Orisakwe

Background. Natural spices are commonly used by the people in Nigeria. They may be easily contaminated with heavy metals when they are dried and then pose a health risk for the consumers.
Objective. The aim of this study was to determine the levels of heavy metals in some commonly consumed natural spices namely Prosopis Africana, Xylopia aethiopica, Piper gineense, Monodora myristica, Monodora tenuifolia and Capsicum frutescens sold in the local markets of Awka, Anambra state, South East Nigeria to estimate the potential health risk.
Results. The range of heavy metal concentration was in the order: Zn (14.09 – 161.04) > Fe (28.15 – 134.59) > Pb (2.61 – 8.97) > Cr (0.001 – 3.81) > Co (0.28 – 3.07) > Ni (0.34 – 2.89). Pb, Fe and Zn exceeded the maximum allowable concentrations for spices. The Target Hazard Quotient (THQ) of the spices varied from 0.06 – 0.5. Estimated daily intakes (EDI) were all below the tolerable daily intake (TDI). The lead levels in Prosopis africana, Xylopia aethiopica, Piper gineense, Monodora myristica and Capsicum frutescens which are 8-30 times higher than the WHO/FAO permissible limit of 0.3 mg/kg.
Conclusions. Lead contamination of spices sold in Awka (south east Nigeria) may add to the body burden of lead. A good quality control for herbal food is important in order to protect consumers from contamination.

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