Author(s): Al Rmalli SW, Haris PI, Harrington CF, Ayub M
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Abstract Arsenic is a highly toxic element and its presence in food composites is a matter of concern to the well being of both humans and animals. Arsenic-contaminated groundwater is often used in Bangladesh and West Bengal (India) to irrigate crops used for food and animal consumption, which could potentially lead to arsenic entering the human food chain. In this study, we used graphite furnace atomic absorption spectroscopy to determine the total arsenic concentrations in a range of foodstuffs, including vegetables, rice and fish, imported into the United Kingdom from Bangladesh. The mean and range of the total arsenic concentration in all the vegetables imported from Bangladesh were 54.5 and 5-540 microg/kg, respectively. The highest arsenic values found were for the skin of Arum tuber, 540 microg/kg, followed by Arum Stem, 168 microg/kg, and Amaranthus, 160 microg/kg. Among the other samples, freshwater fish contained total arsenic levels between 97 and 1318 microg/kg. The arsenic content of the vegetables from the UK was approximately 2- to 3-fold lower than those observed for the vegetables imported from Bangladesh. The levels of arsenic found in vegetables imported from Bangladesh in this study, in some cases, are similar to those previously recorded for vegetables grown in arsenic-affected areas of West Bengal, India, although lower than the levels reported in studies from Bangladesh. While the total arsenic content detected in our study in vegetables, imported from Bangladesh, is far less than the recommended maximum permitted level of arsenic, it does provide an additional source of arsenic in the diet. This raises the possibility that the level of arsenic intake by certain sectors of the UK population may be significantly higher then the general population and requires further investigations.
This article was published in Sci Total Environ
and referenced in Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry