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Sources of Arsenic
Arsenic is present in the environment due to natural sources or anthropogenic processes and because of its mobility, it can be determined in soil, sediment, ground and sea water. Ingested arsenic is accumulated and metabolised in the organisms and can therefore be detected in many foods like fish, seafood, algae, mushrooms, wine and rice. Arsenic is even detected in chicken because of feed containing fish meal.
Arsenic exists in different chemical forms and these compounds do not have the same toxicity. Inorganic arsenic compounds like arsenite [AsO3]3- and arsenate [AsO4]3- belong to the highly toxic and carcinogenic compounds and can be determined mainly in soil, water, sediment and even in food of plant origin like rice for example. Inorganic arsenic is methylated in living organisms. This process may be considered a detoxification mechanism. Arsenobetain, for example, the predominant organic arsenic compound in fish is considered non-toxic.
Food Law Limits
In Europe there are no specified maximum residue limits for arsenic in food. The German drinking water regulation issues limits for arsenic in drinking water of 0.01 mg/L and in mineral water of 0.5 mg/L. Because of various sources of arsenic with different toxicity in our food, it is important to differentiate the arsenic species to assess the impact on human health. The PWTI (provisional weekly tolerable intake) of 15 µg/kg/w issued by the World Health Organization refers to the toxic inorganic arsenic. However, the carcinogenic effect is not taken into account yet.
GALAB has developed a rugged method for the determination of different arsenic species and offers the routine analysis for a large variety of foods. With this method up to 17 different arsenic species can be determined within a single method. For each type of sample adapted extraction methods are applied. Determination is carried out using IC-ICP-MS which couples efficient separation of ion chromatography to sensitive mass spectrometric detection. As a member of the European Virtual Institute for Speciation Analysis (EVISA) we work together with other experienced scientists in speciation analysis and are therefore able to
offer competent analysis at all times.
A New Perspective in Arsenic Speciation: Simultaneous Separation of 17 Inorganic and Organic Arsenic Species in Marine Biota by Means of HPLC/ICPMS
Arsenic Compounds in Rice, Fish and Algae
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