Arsenic in the human food chain: The Latin American perspective

Jochen Bundschuh, Bibhash Nath, Prosun Bhattacharya, Chen Wuing Liu, María Aurora Armienta, Myriam V. Moreno López, Dina L. Lopez, Jiin Shuh Jean, Lorena Cornejo, Luciene Fagundes Lauer Macedo, Alfredo Tenuta Filho

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

122 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Many regions of Latin America are widely reported for the occurrence of high arsenic (As) in groundwater and surface water due to a combination of geological processes and/or anthropogenic activities. In this paper, we review the available literature (both in English and Spanish languages) to delineate human As exposure pathways through the food chain. Numerous studies show that As accumulations in edible plants and crops are mainly associated with the presence of high As in soils and irrigation waters. However, factors such as As speciation, type and composition of soil, and plant species have a major control on the amount of As uptake. Areas of high As concentrations in surface water and groundwater show high As accumulations in plants, fish/shellfish, livestock meat, milk and cheese. Such elevated As concentrations in food may result in widespread health risks to local inhabitants, including health of indigenous populations and residents living close to mining industries. Some studies show that As can be transferred from the water to prepared meals, thereby magnifying the As content in the human diet. Arsenic speciation might also change during food preparation, especially during high temperature cooking, such as grilling and frying. Finally, the review of the available literature demonstrates the necessity of more rigorous studies in evaluating pathways of As exposure through the human food chain in Latin America.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-106
Number of pages15
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume429
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jul 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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