The concentration of cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb) in vegetable (potatoes, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, leeks, and carrots) and cereal (wheat and rice) samples collected from Iran were investigated by a graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrophotometer. In addition, we determined the health risks due to exposure to Cd and Pb through vegetable and cereal consumption by computing the estimated daily intake, the target hazard quotient (THQ), the total THQ, and the margin of exposure. The mean concentrations of Pb in potato, onion, tomato, lettuce, leek, carrot, wheat, and rice samples were measured as 0.029 ± 0.011, 0.016 ± 0.012, 0.007 ± 0.005, 0.022 ± 0.020, 0.040 ± 0.048, 0.029 ± 0.025, 0.123 ± 0.120, and 0.097 ± 0.059 mg kg−1 wet weight, respectively, and all were below the maximum allowable concentrations set by the European Union. The mean concentrations of Cd in potatoes, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, leeks, carrots, wheat, and rice samples were measured as 0.022 ± 0.013, 0.011 ± 0.009, 0.003 ± 0.003, 0.007 ± 0.005, 0.015 ± 0.024, 0.013 ± 0.011, 0.046 ± 0.043, and 0.049 ± 0.04 mg kg−1 wet weight, respectively, and all were below the permissible levels established by the European Union. The corresponding values for the estimated daily intake of Cd were acceptable and lower than the provisional tolerable daily intake. The THQ and total THQ values of Cd through consumption of all vegetables and cereals were lower than 1. The margin of exposure values for Pb in samples were >1, showing no significant human health risks for both potentially toxic elements. The findings of this study indicated there is no risk associated with exposure to Pb and Cd through the intake of selected vegetables and cereals in western Iran.

  • Levels of lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd) in vegetable and cereal samples were determined.

  • Mean Pb and Cd concentration of all samples was lower than the maximum EU permissible levels.

  • THQ and the TTHQ values of Cd were lower than 1.

  • MOE values for Pb in samples were >1.

  • No significant risk was found with ingestion of Pb and Cd in vegetables and cereals in Iran.

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