Updated exposure assessment of inorganic arsenic (iAs)

Arsenic is a ubiquitous semimetal. Its occurrence can be natural (a component of minerals), but it can also be influenced by various human activities (mining, burning fossil fuels). Arsenic can be in organic or inorganic form. Both compounds are toxic, with inorganic arsenic (iAs), which is predominantly found in soil, being the more toxic form. Inorganic arsenic is classified as a carcinogen. Other chronic effects of arsenic have been associated with, for example, skin lesions or cardiovascular disease.[1]

The sources of exposure of iAs to humans are of different types. Arsenic is mainly absorbed through food or drinking water, but also through inhalation and skin contact. Recent studies show that dietary intake of iAs, regardless of age, occurs primarily through the consumption of "rice", "rice products", "cereals and cereal products" and "drinking water". The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has revised and adapted the exposure assessment on chronic dietary exposure to arsenic from 2014 according to a new data set. The current assessment includes a dataset from 23 European Member States from 2013 to 2018. Compared to the exposure estimate published in 2014, EFSA's current results indicate a lower exposure of the population to inorganic arsenic via the diet by a factor of 1.5 - 3. However, this is not the end of the assessment, which is to be updated on an ongoing basis, taking into account the occurrence and the respective consumption data. [2]

However, the updated exposure assessment has no consequences on the maximum levels for inorganic arsenic listed in the Contaminant Maximum Levels Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006.

The Institute for Product Quality offers analysis for arsenic, in particular also for inorganic arsenic.

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Chronic dietary exposure to inorganic arsenic - - 2021 - EFSA Journal - Wiley Online Library