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Exposure Assessments to Chemical Contaminants in Food

Leonardi, G S*; Fletcher, T; Gnagnarella, P; Duarte-Davidson, R*

doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000339552.03117.87
Abstracts: ISEE 20th Annual Conference, Pasadena, California, October 12–16, 2008: Symposium Abstracts

*Health Protection Agency, Didcot, United Kingdom; †London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom; and ‡European Institute of Oncology, Milan, Italy.

Abstracts published in Epidemiology have been reviewed by the organizations of Epidemiology. Affliate Societies at whose meetings the abstracts have been accepted for presentation. These abstracts have not undergone review by the Editorial Board of Epidemiology.


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A main route of exposure to chemical contaminants is via food ingestion. Quantitative information on this at individual level would provide key information for estimation of health effects, and for monitoring of policies regulating human exposure to chemicals. However, there is a wide gap between information needed for estimation of chemical contaminant exposure via food, and information currently available. One of the reasons is that exposure measurement of chemical contaminants in food is complex: information from nutritional surveys of food intake needs to be combined with estimates of contaminant concentration in food items, to produce valid assessment of overall chemical exposure via food. These principles have been applied to a number of chemical contaminants of food, such as metals and persistent organic pollutants. In the Arsenic Risk Assessment and Molecular Epidemiology (ASHRAM) in Central Europe, a Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) was used to estimate dietary intake of water and other nutrients. Repeatability and validity studies for the ASHRAM FFQ were conducted in 85 volunteers in counties of the Slovak republic. As part of the validitation, a study of fluid vessels volume was conducted that showed the average size of a glass for drinking water was 231.7 ml SD 7.7 in this population. Overall water intake will be estimated by adding volumes and frequencies for all fluids consumed per year. In consideration of the expected dietary differences before and after political and social changes in 1989, the FFQ included sections estimating nutrient intake in both periods. Estimates of arsenic content in drinking water and food items, both from ASHRAM study and preceding surveys, will be used to estimate exposure via water and food. An effort to reconstruct exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in food items is ongoing in a community study in West Virginia, and has provided an opportunity to extend the methods outlined above to the case of a persistent organic pollutant. Recent methodological advances in assessment of exposure to chemical contaminants via food are relevant to overall assessment of food safety, and will be presented in this session.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.