Revista Peruana de Medicina Experimental y Salud Pública (2018-04-01)

Arsenic intake: impact in human nutrition and health

  • María Medina-Pizzali,
  • Pamela Robles,
  • Mónica Mendoza,
  • Celeste Torres

DOI
https://doi.org/10.17843/rpmesp.2018.351.3604
Journal volume & issue
Vol. 35, no. 1
pp. 93 – 102

Abstract

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Arsenic is an element that is widely distributed throughout the environment. Its compounds are mainly in the state of pentavalent and trivalent oxidation; and in inorganic and organic forms. Arsenical species vary in their degree of toxicity, with inorganic compounds being more toxic than organic and trivalent compounds more toxic than pentavalent compounds. There would be interconversion between the less toxic species and other more toxic species and the cooking and processing methods could affect it. Arsenic is a carcinogenic agent and causes multiple negative effects on human health in the short and long term. Non-occupational human exposure to arsenic occurs mainly through water and food. The regulation is variable for each country and is based on WHO standards, the Codex Alimentarius, and the European Union. Many studies focus on determining the total arsenic content but do not identify arsenical species in foods. Globally, fish and seafood, chicken, meat, rice, and seaweed have high levels of arsenic. In Peru, there are few studies on total arsenic content and arsenical species in food despite the fact that we have areas with high levels of environmental contamination. The objective of this review is to discuss exposure to arsenic through food and water intake, related regulations, toxicity, consequences on human health and main foods that contribute to its intake.

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