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Biol Trace Elem Res. 2013 Jan;151(1):122-31. doi: 10.1007/s12011-012-9543-1. Epub 2012 Nov 28.

Environmental lithium exposure in the north of Chile--II. Natural food sources.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of Tarapaca, Arica, Chile.


Lithium, generally, occurs in barely trace amounts in ground water with few major exceptions. One of these is the northern area of Chile where all potable water and many of the food stuffs contain high levels of lithium. Surface water can contain between 100 and 10,000 times more than most rivers in North America. Inevitably, food, both animal and vegetable, contains higher lithium levels than found elsewhere. In consequence, the local population has been exposed to high levels of lithium in their food and drinking water for as long as the region has been populated. The present report details lithium levels in a variety of food stuffs from several locations in Northern Chile and compares these with those found elsewhere. The implications for the local population have been discussed in our earlier paper.

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