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An Investigation by Laser Ablation and Inductively Coupled Mass Spectrometry of the Gradation and Levels of Metal Contaminants in UK Grown Fruits, Vegetables and Cereals – 2012/13


<p>Field samples of UK grown fruit, vegetable and cereal produce and accompanying soil will be sampled from various growing regions of the British Isles. This will determine the levels of total arsenic, inorganic arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, chromium, copper, iron, aluminium, manganese and zinc present.</p>

<p>A minimum of 300 samples of produce and soil will be taken from late Autumn 2012 to Summer 2013. Types of produce to be sampled will include apples, pears, carrots, parsnips, beetroots, turnips, swedes, courgettes, wheat, barley, oats and rye.</p>

<p>All produce samples collected will be analysed for the distribution of arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, chromium, copper, iron, aluminium, manganese and zinc from the outer skin to the core of the selected produce. This will be done using Laser Ablation-Inductively Coupled Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). In addition, total elemental analysis will be performed on the sampled produce and a subset of samples will be analysed for arsenic speciation.</p>

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<p>Background: During growth, fruit, vegetables and cereals take up metal contaminants from the surrounding soil area. Arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury have no known beneficial health effects, while trace amounts of other metals such as chromium, copper, iron, aluminium, manganese and zinc can act as nutrients and are essential for health. However, all of these may be harmful if excessive amounts are consumed. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has previously concluded that dietary exposure to inorganic arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury should be reduced. In addition, the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) agree that it is not possible to set a tolerable lead intake. Therefore, it is of benefit to minimise the exposure to lead from all sources. </p>

University of Aberdeen
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