Cadmium Levels Across Spinach Varieties


  • Carina Eisenberg, Plant Science, New York University

Faculty Mentor(s)

  • Angelia Seyfferth, PLSC, University of Delaware


Cadmium, a heavy metal that is harmful to humans, is naturally present in the environment but can be more concentrated in certain soils due to human activity. Cd tends to particularly accumulate in spinach, which poses substantial risks to food safety. In testing nine different spinach samples sent by farmers with a range of locations, varieties, and harvest dates, I aimed to assess Cd levels in spinach and different factors that may affect it. I used a DTPA extraction method to test potential soil availability of Cd in my samples. I then used a microwave digestion method to test Cd levels in both my soil and spinach samples and analyzed all solutions for trace metal concentrations via ICP-MS. The results show that plant-available Cd is weakly positively correlated with spinach Cd concentrations, and an outlier with very high spinach Cd was likely caused by higher chloride levels, which increased plant-availability of Cd. More data would be needed to see stronger conclusions. All spinach samples had low levels of Cd.