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J Food Sci. 2008 Mar;73(2):R21-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2007.00648.x.

Methodological evaluation of method for dietary heavy metal intake.

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Dept. of Analytical Chemistry, Chemical Faculty, Gdansk Univ. of Technology, G. Narutowicza St. 11/12, 80-952 Gdansk, Poland.


Exposure to environmental pollutants is an important problem of environmental toxicology. Heavy metals are regarded as toxic to living organisms because of their tendency to accumulate in selected tissues. Moreover, their presence is a causative agent of various sorts of disorders, including neuro-, nephro-, carcino-, terato-, and immunological. Exposures of human to environmental chemicals can occur simultaneously from various sources. One exposure route is ingestion of hazardous chemicals through contaminated food and beverages. Considering the above-mentioned menace, efforts should be focused on the estimation of dietary intakes of potential toxic agents by consumers. Dietary exposure assessment to nonnutrients is usually performed by combining 2 sets of data-the concentration of elemental contaminants in various food products and the consumption data of these food items. A variety of approaches exist for evaluating exposure to food chemicals, and the method chosen is influenced, among others, by the intended goal, the availability of data, cost, and time frame. Moreover, it is also important to note how accurate and detailed the information concerning toxic elements intake needs to be. There are a number of sources of food consumption data currently used in exposure assessments, which range from 1 d to habitual intake. Frequently, the heavy metals for which dietary exposure is of interest are present in trace and ultra-trace quantities. Hence, an analytical technique with sufficient sensitivity is required for the accurate determination of these chemicals in food samples. It is important to remember that the accuracy of quantitative analysis is strongly dependent on the sampling and preparation steps.

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