n Medical Technology SA - An assessment of different soil types generally consumed by pregnant women in South Africa

Volume 27, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-5528


The habit of eating soil by pregnant women is an acceptable practice in some parts of Africa. We analysed the elemental concentration of some soil samples commonly consumed in South Africa. Samples of soil commonly consumed were collected and analysed for elemental concentrations using Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS). The colours of the samples were either brick red, light red or brown. Soil pH (6.23 ± 0.14 - 6.79 ± 0.04). The soil was of more silt. The results were 60.04 - 169.3 (Aluminium), 24.78 - 87.73 mg/g (Iron), 0.36 - 3.99 mg/g (Calcium), 21.8 - 36.7 µg/g (Lead), 67.3 - 290 µg/g (Zinc), 0.52 - 3.04 µg/g (Antimony) and 0.02 - 0.22 µg/g (Cadmium). Significant differences were observed for the concentration of elements form all the samples (p<0.05). The target hazard quotient (THQ) showed that people consuming the sampled soil might be at greater risk of having serious health problems due to levels of elements such as Mn, Pb and Fe from the samples. It is therefore important to educate people on the effects of consuming soil since the level of trace elements cannot be controlled from the soil and may be present at a level that is toxic.

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