Arsenic analysis in drinking water and foods

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Autors: Éva Sugár, Viktor Gábor Mihucz, Gyula Záray



According to community regulation, the arsenic content of drinking water in the European Union cannot exceed 10 µg/L. However, before harmonization, the allowable arsenic concentration according to Hungarian regulation was 50 µg/L. The authors of this study investigated whether it is justified, in view of domestic drinking water and food consumption data, to apply arsenic limits prescribed by the EU, that are much stricter than the former Hungarian regulation. For this reason, arsenic content of drinking waters from Békés, Bács-Kiskun, Csongrád and Pest counties were analyzed, and this was supplemented by the measurement of the arsenic concentration of nine major food groups in a way that arsenic concentration of the drinking water used for the manufacture of the foods was also determined. In addition, two characteristically Hungarian menus were created, containing the recommended daily energy intake of 2000 kcal. During the study, the amount of arsenic entering the human body when comsuming these menus was also determined. The toxic effect of arsenic on warm-blooded animals depends on which chemical form the element enters the digestive system in. Inorganic forms of arsenic are significantly more toxic than organic ones, therefore, to identify arsenic forms in water and food samples, a speciation method using the coupled technique HPLC-ICP-MS was applied. This way, not only the total arsenic content of the samples was determined, but also the distribution of the arsenic content between the different chemical forms. Thus, a more accurate picture could be formed about the risk characteristic of the average Hungarian diet, due to domestic consumption of drinking water and foods. The conclusion reached by the authors of this report was that arsenic entering the human body with foods did not pose a significant public health risk in Hungary, even when the drinking water limit value was 50 µg/L.

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