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Food Chem Toxicol. 2014 Oct;72:312-21. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2014.04.029. Epub 2014 Apr 26.

Mineral oil in human tissues, Part I: concentrations and molecular mass distributions.

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Università di Udine, Dipartimento di Scienze degli Alimenti via Sondrio 2/A, I-33100 Udine, Italy.
Clinical Institute for Pathology, Medical University of Vienna, Währinger Gürtel 18-20, A-1090 Wien, Austria.
Official Food Control Authority of the Canton of Zurich, Fehrenstrasse 15, P.O. Box, CH-8032 Zurich, Switzerland.
Department of Pathology, Danube Hospital, Langobardenstr. 122, A-1220 Vienna, Austria.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Innsbruck Medical University, Anichstr. 35, A-6020-Innsbruck, Austria.
Official Food Control Authority of the Canton of Zurich, Fehrenstrasse 15, P.O. Box, CH-8032 Zurich, Switzerland. Electronic address:


Of 37 subjects aged 25-91 y (mean 67 y), mineral oil hydrocarbons were measured in subcutaneous abdominal fat tissue, mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN), spleen, liver and lung, for some of them also in kidney, heart and brain. No mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH) were detected. The mean concentration of mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH) in the mesenteric lymph nodes was 223 mg/kg, in liver 131 mg/kg, in fat tissue 130 mg/kg, in spleen 93 mg/kg and in lung 12 mg/kg. They were clearly lower in kidney, heart and brain. The maxima, found in MLN and spleen, were 1390 and 1400 mg/kg, respectively. For a quarter of the subjects a total amount of MOSH in the body above 5 g was calculated. The MOSH composition in the fat tissue and the MLN appeared virtually identical and varied little between the subjects. It was centered on the n-alkanes C23-C24, ranged from C16 to C35 and included hydrocarbons of plant origin. The MOSH in spleen and liver had almost the same composition for a given subject, but varied somewhat between subjects. They were centered between C25 and C27, ranged from C18 to beyond C45 and were without hydrocarbons of plant origin. Part of the MOSH seem to be strongly accumulated, resulting in far higher concentrations in human tissues related to exposure than observed in shorter term animal experiments. The composition of the accumulated MOSH does not support that Class I mineral oils, sometimes termed "food grade", are less accumulated in the human body than Class II and III oils, which questions the present classification.


Accumulation; Fat tissue; Liver; Mesenteric lymph nodes; Mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH); Spleen

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