Determination of heavy metals in the soils of tea plantations and in fresh and processed tea leaves: An evaluation of six digestion methods

Md Harunur Rashid, Zeenath Fardous, M. Alamgir Zaman Chowdhury, Md Khorshed Alam, Md Latiful Bari, Mohammed Moniruzzaman, Siew Hua Gan

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The aim of this study was to determine the levels of cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), lead (Pb), arsenic (As) and selenium (Se) in (1) fresh tea leaves, (2) processed (black) tea leaves and (3) soils from tea plantations originating from Bangladesh. Methods: Graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry (GF-AAS) was used to evaluate six digestion methods, (1) nitric acid, (2) nitric acid overnight, (3) nitric acid-hydrogen peroxide, (4) nitric-perchloric acid, (5) sulfuric acid, and (6) dry ashing, to determine the most suitable digestion method for the determination of heavy metals in the samples. Results: The concentration ranges of Cd, Pb, As and Se in fresh tea leaves were from 0.03-0.13, 0.19-2.06 and 0.47-1.31μg/g, respectively while processed tea contained heavy metals at different concentrations: Cd (0.04-0.16μg/g), Cr (0.45-10.73μg/g), Pb (0.07-1.03μg/g), As (0.89-1.90μg/g) and Se (0.21-10.79μg/g). Moreover, the soil samples of tea plantations also showed a wide range of concentrations: Cd (0.11-0.45μg/g), Pb (2.80-66.54μg/g), As (0.78-4.49μg/g), and Se content (0.03-0.99μg/g). Method no. 2 provided sufficient time to digest the tea matrix and was the most efficient method for recovering Cd, Cr, Pb, As and Se. Methods 1 and 3 were also acceptable and can be relatively inexpensive, easy and fast. The heavy metal transfer factors in the investigated soil/tea samples decreased as follows: Cd>As>Se>Pb. Conclusion: Overall, the present study gives current insights into the heavy metal levels both in soils and teas commonly consumed in Bangladesh.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7
Number of pages13
JournalChemistry Central Journal
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Black tea
  • Dry ashing
  • Fresh tea
  • GF-AAS
  • Heavy metals
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Nitric acid
  • Perchloric acid

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