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Assessment of microcystin contamination of Amaranthus hybridus, Brassica oleracea, and Lactuca sativa sold in markets: a case study of Zaria, Nigeria.

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Microcystins (MCs) are toxic secondary metabolites produced by several cyanobacteria genera that have been implicated in human cancer cases and deaths. Human exposure routes include direct contact with contaminated water and the consumption of contaminated food. The present study investigated the presence of MCs in three commonly consumed vegetables at the point of sale in market places as a means of assessing the direct human health risk of buying vegetables. Overall, 53% of the vegetables obtained from different markets had levels of MCs that were higher than 1.00 μg/g. Amaranthus hybridus L. (smooth amaranth) had the highest MC concentration (4.79 μg/g) in samples obtained from Sabon Gari Market, while Lactuca sativa L. (garden lettuce) had the lowest concentration (0.17 μg/g) in samples obtained from Dan-Magaji Market. The highest total daily intake (TDI) of MCs by an adult weighing 60 kg was 3.19 μg/kg for A. hybridus, 1.41 μg/kg for Brassica oleracea L. (cabbage), and 2.94 μg/kg for L. sativa. The highest TDI of MCs for a child weighing 25 kg was highest in A. hybridus (1.91 μg/kg), followed by L. sativa (1.77 μg/kg). These results revealed that the consumption of vegetables sold in markets in Zaria, Nigeria, during the dry season represents a major exposure route to MCs. There is, therefore, an urgent need to develop policies and monitoring strategies to tackle this problem in developing countries.

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