The Effects of Cadmium and Lead on Phaseolus vulgaris
The demand for better quality produce by consumers is on the increase, as higher heavy metal concentrations pose a problem in agriculture. They result in decreased yield and unsuitable food for human consumption. This brings about a negative economic effect as such products become unprofitable on the domestic or export markets thus affecting productivity of farms.Four heavy metals (Cd, Cu, Pb and Zn) have been shown to be a problem in the farming areas in Cape Town. Pot and field studies were carried out on the effects and concentrations of cadmium and lead on Phaseolus vulgaris. Field studies included collecting plant samples from the Joostenbergvlakte/ Kraaifontein farming areas and measuring the heavy metal concentrations within the different organs of the plants. Pot experiments were carried out, where Phaseolus vulgaris var. Contender were grown and then heavy metals were administered to these plants together with two heavy metal mitigation techniques, precipitation with phosphate and mobilisation with EDTA to see if they were successful in combating heavy metal pollution.Samples taken from farms in the Joostenbergvlakte/ Kraaifontein area revealed that cadmium, lead and zinc concentrations were higher than the legal standard in the edible fruits. In the pot experiment, results revealed that cadmium reduced the chlorophyll index as well as the shoot fresh mass and changes in mineral uptake were seen. Lead did not affect growth or the chlorophyll index. The high cadmium treatment resulted in a marked increase in sodium concentration in the shoots. The phosphate treatments and EDTA treatments both resulted in increased cadmium concentrations in the roots and shoots. The higher phosphate and lead treatments also reduced lead concentrations in the roots. Low phosphate and the EDTA treatments increased the shoot sodium concentrations.