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J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Feb 13;50(4):918-23.

Heavy metal, total arsenic, and inorganic arsenic contents of algae food products.

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  • 1Instituto de Agroquímica y Tecnología de Alimentos (CSIC), Apartado 73, 46100 Burjassot (Valencia), Spain.


The total arsenic, inorganic arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury contents of 18 algae food products currently on sale in Spain were determined. The suitability of the analytical methodologies for this type of matrix was confirmed by evaluating their analytical characteristics. The concentration ranges found for each contaminant, expressed in milligrams per kilogram of dry weight, were as follows: total arsenic, 2.3-141; inorganic arsenic, 0.15-88; lead, < 0.05-1.33; cadmium, 0.03-1.9; and mercury, 0.004-0.04. There is currently no legislation in Spain regarding contaminants in algae food products, but some of the samples analyzed revealed Cd and inorganic As levels higher than those permitted by legislation in other countries. Given the high concentrations of inorganic As found in Hizikia fusiforme, a daily consumption of 1.7 g of the product would reach the Provisional Tolerable Weekly Intake recommended by the WHO for an average body weight of 68 kg. A more comprehensive study of the contents and toxicological implications of the inorganic As present in the algae food products currently sold in Spain may be necessary, which might then be the basis for the introduction of specific sales restrictions.

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