From heart disease to cancer, vegetables are one of the greatest weapons you can add to your arsenal of defenses against a variety of health issues. However, a new study has warned that colorful foods may contain more chemicals than desirable plant foods.
Toxic chemicals from car tires can end up on your plate, as pollutants can be ingested by vegetables.
A new study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology paints a disturbing picture of how dangerous chemicals can end up in your food.
The research team found that when car tire particles are rubbed off the ground, they leave behind a trail of potentially hazardous substances.
These pesky particles can be dispersed by wind and rain into rivers and sewage.
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Sewage and sewage sludge are often used as fertilizer in agriculture, meaning that tire particles can end up in agricultural soils.
Thus, criminals can contaminate growing plants and potentially make them unsafe to eat.
Worse still, a person will leave behind about one kilogram of potentially toxic particles every year without even knowing it.
Anya Sherman, co-author of the study, said: “Tire wear particles contain a number of organic chemicals, some of which are highly toxic.”
To study the risk, the scientists added five chemicals to the lettuce plant, four of which are used in the manufacture of tires.
While not all of these chemicals have been proven to be harmful, a fifth is considered toxic.
This pesky chemical is created when a tire is used, not when a wheel is manufactured.
This chemical is called 6PPD-quinone and has been linked to mass mortality of salmon in the US.
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Ms Sherman said: “Our measurements showed that the lettuce plants took up all the compounds we tested through their roots, moved them to the lettuce leaves and accumulated them there.”
This also happened when lettuce plants were not exposed to chemicals directly, but indirectly through tire residue.
Professor Thilo Hofmann of the University of Vienna said: “Lettuce plants constantly absorb potentially harmful chemicals that are released by tire abrasion particles over a long period of time.”
The substances from the tires also interacted with lettuce plants and formed new compounds, but these compounds were unknown to scientists.
This means that the research team was unable to determine whether they are toxic or not.
Dr Thorsten Hüffer, Senior Scientist at CMESS, said: “Because we do not know the toxicity of these metabolites, they pose a health risk that cannot yet be assessed.”
The team’s next step is to better trace the contaminants’ possible path from tire wear from the road to the license plate.
Ruoting Peng, co-author of the study, said: “The processes we have studied are likely to occur differently in soil systems.
“Therefore, we are considering the possible uptake of tire additives by plant roots in natural soils.”