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Intake of Inorganic Arsenic in the North American Diet

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Dietary intake of inorganic arsenic, previously assumed to be an insignificant source of arsenic exposure in humans, was estimated for Canadian and United States populations. Input data included arsenic contents of various food groups, a limited historical database from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment measuring the percent inorganic arsenic in food groups, and food consumption data. Estimated daily dietary intake of inorganic arsenic ranges from 8.3 to 14 µg/day in the United States and from 4.8 to 12.7 µg/day in Canada for various age groups. These data suggest that between 21% to 40% of total dietary arsenic occurs in inorganic forms. Uncertainties regarding total arsenic in dairy products in the data set applied here may account for observed differences between United States and Canadian estimates. While estimates provided here are preliminary because of limitations in data on the proportion of inorganic arsenic in foods, this analysis suggests that dietary intake of inorganic arsenic is higher than is currently assumed. Additional research is needed to more fully characterize inorganic arsenic concentrations in foods. Future study is also needed on the variability of total and inorganic arsenic in foods and the bioavailability of dietary inorganic arsenic.

Keywords: Canada; United States; arsenic; food; metals exposure assessment; speciation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: PTI Environmental Services, Bellevue, WA 2: Ontario Ministry of Environment and Energy, Toronto, Ontario

Publication date: 1998-02-01

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