The accumulation of perchlorate in vegetation is becoming a concern, with increasing numbers of sites reporting the presence of perchlorate in groundwater and surface water. This study investigated potential perchlorate uptake and distribution by a variety of forage and edible crops in both the laboratory and the field. Perchlorate concentrations in soybean leaves grown in the greenhouse were significantly higher than perchlorate concentrations in soybean seeds and pods. Perchlorate concentrations in alfalfa grown in sand were significantly lower than those in alfalfa grown in soil. The concentration of perchlorate in tomato was lower in the fruit than the leaves. Commercially grown wheat and alfalfa samples all contained perchlorate, 0.72-8.6 mg/kg of fresh weight (FW) in the wheat stems, 0.71-4.4 mg/kg of FW in the wheat heads, and 2.9 mg/kg of FW in alfalfa. All field garden samples tested (including cucumber, cantaloupe, and tomato) that were irrigated with perchlorate-tainted water contained perchlorate at various concentrations ranging from 0.040 to 1.65 mg/kg of FW. Bioconcentration factors (BCF), ratios of plant fresh weight concentrations to estimated or measured groundwater concentrations [(μg/kg of FW)/μg/L], were all in the same order of magnitude ranging from 215 ± 126 for wheat stems to 233 ± 264 for wheat heads and to 380 ± 89 for alfalfa. BCF for garden fruit samples were much lower (0.5-20). Results from this study highlight the potential for perchlorate exposure by routes other than drinking water.
- Irrigation water