The build-up of heavy metals (HM) in agricultural soils accelerates the HM uptake by plants, which could potentially affect food quality and food safety. Here we studied the status and bioaccumulation of HM from soils to plant parts (roots, stem, and grains) in Usangu agro-ecosystem-Tanzania. In total 68 soil samples and 42 rice plant samples from six irrigation schemes were studied. The concentrations of cadmium-Cd, chromium-Cr, copper-Cu, lead-Pb, zinc-Zn, nickel-Ni, and iron-Fe were determined to estimate accumulation, distribution, bioconcentration. Total soil HM concentration in soil and plant samples was determined by acid digestion. The concentration of HM in soils samples (in mg/kg) were Cr (4.58–42.76), Co (1.486–6.12), Fe (3513.56–12593.99), Zn (7.89–29.17), Cd (0.008–0.073), Cu (0.84–9.25), Ni (0.92–7.98), and Pb (1.82–18.86). The total HM concentration in plant samples were (in mg/kg) were Cu (5.18–33.56), Zn (57.03–120.88), Fe (963.51–27918.95), Mn (613.15–2280.98), Cd (4.3–17.46), Pb (0.01–28.25), Cr (12.88–57.34) and Ni (9.65–103.33). The concentration of HM in soil and plant parts was observed to vary among locations where high concentrations of HM were detected in stems and roots compared to grains. The ratio HM in plants and soil samples (bioconcentration) was higher than one for some sites indicating higher HM uptakes by plants leading to possible health risk to soil invertebrates, animals, and humans. The bioconcentration factor varied among schemes, with the highest values at Igalako and Mahongole, which could be caused by artisanal gold mining and mining quarry existed in the area. Therefore, steps are needed to reverse the situation to balance the HM in agricultural soils and plant tissues to be within acceptable limits.
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