Metal Accumulation and Food Safety in waste water-fed Aquatic Production Systems in Cambodia and Vietnam


Start date: 31 December, 2004 End date: 31 December, 2010 Project type: Smaller projects: Postdoc Project code: 887-LIFE Countries: Cambodia Vietnam Thematic areas: Aquatic environment and resources, Water management and sanitation, Lead institution: University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark Project coordinator: Peter Engelund Holm Total grant: 2,427,648 DKK

Project summary

Untreated wastewater is used for irrigation of aquatic food production systems in areas surrounding the major cities in Southeast Asia. This has given rise to a concern that toxic metals could accumulate in foods produced near Hanoi and Phnom Penh. To address this concern, Danida and the Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, initiated the research project “Metal accumulation and food safety in wastewater-fed aquatic production systems in Cambodia and Vietnam” (Metsafe). In Hanoi, domestic and industrial wastewater is discharged to small rivers that flow to districts south of the city. Here, wastewater is pumped from the rivers into canals and is distributed to aquatic vegetable and fish production systems. In Phnom Penh, the use of wastewater for aquatic food production is less organized. The Metsafe project is investigating samples of aquatic vegetables, fish, water, soil, and sediment from both production systems. The project also includes training and capacity building at local institutions, as well as direct collaborations with other projects of relevance to the regions. It was concluded, that the actual toxic metal exposure from consumption of aquatic vegetables and fish constituted low food safety risks for consumers. The Hanoi river sediments have shown high retention capacity for toxic metals. Contact persons: Regarding the Metsafe project overall: Peter E. Holm ( Scientific leaders: Helle Marcussen (, Anders Dalsgaard (

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