Application of biochar to soil reduces cancer risk via rice consumption: a case study in Miaoqian village, Longyan, China

Sardar Khan, Brian J. Reid, Gang Li, Yong-Guan Zhu

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Consumption of rice contaminated with potentially toxic elements (PTEs) is a major pathway for human exposure to PTEs. This is particularly true in China's so called "Cancer Villages". In this study, sewage sludge biochar (SSBC) was applied to soil (at 5% and 10%) to suppress PTE phytoavailability and as a consequence to reduce PTE levels in rice grown in mining impacted paddy soils. Risk assessment indicated that SSBC addition (10%) markedly (P≤0.05) decreased the daily intake, associated with the consumption of rice, of PTEs (As, Cd, Co, Cu, Mn, Pb and Zn by: 68, 42, 55, 29, 43, 38 and 22%, respectively). In treatments containing SSBC (10%) the health quotient (HQ) indices for PTEs (except for As, Cu and Mn) were <1, indicating that SSBC suppressed the health risk associated with PTEs in rice. The addition of SSBC (10%) markedly (P≤0.01) reduced AsIII (72%), dimethylarsinic acid (DMA) (74%) and AsV (62%) concentrations in rice. Consequentially, following SSBC application (10%), the incremental lifetime cancer (ILTR) value for iAs (AsIII+AsV) associated with the consumption of rice was significantly (P≤0.01) reduced by 66%. These findings suggest that SSBC could be a useful soil amendment to mitigating PTE exposure, through rice consumption, in China's "Cancer Villages".
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-161
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironment International
Early online date14 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


  • Biochar
  • Metals
  • Rice
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Daily intake
  • As speciation
  • Cancer risk

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