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Toxic Metals in Delhi Vegetables Markets

  • 26 Jul 2019
  • 3 min read

According to National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) study, vegetables grown on the Yamuna floodplain have been found to contain high doses of lead, which, on prolonged consumption, could trigger a range of diseases.


  • The heaviest lead contamination was found in coriander collected from east Delhi.
  • Except for cabbage, lead levels were found to be above the standard in all vegetables collected from vendors, with the highest level found in spinach (14.1 mg/kg).
  • While the safe limit for lead in vegetables has been set at 2.5mg/kg by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the level of the metal detected in vegetable samples collected from the floodplain ranges from 2.8mg/kg to 13.8mg/kg.
  • The study was conducted in February 2019 by the NEERI and the findings were placed before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in May 2019.


  • Even though only 2% of the Yamuna’s stretch passes through Delhi, it receives around 70% of the Capital’s polluted water.
  • In 2015, the NGT had banned the cultivation of edible crops and fodder on the floodplain saying that such vegetables were highly contaminated. Despite this, the practice continues.
  • The source of lead could be industries dealing in automobile parts, batteries, paint and polythene. Various kinds of usage of lead-based compounds may also be potential sources.

Health Effects

  • Heavy-metal toxicity can lower energy levels, damage the functioning of the brain, lungs, kidneys, and liver.
  • They can also damage the blood composition and other important organs.
  • Long-term exposure to these metals could even cause cancer.
  • Lead poisoning can lead to mental retardation in children.

National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI)

  • National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) is one of the 38 national laboratories of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) working in various areas of science and technology.
  • Its mandate is to conduct and development studies in environmental science and engineering and to participate in CSIR thrust areas and mission projects.
  • Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) is an autonomous body under Ministry of Science & Technology, Govt. of India.

Source: HT

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