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Arsenic species and their health risks in edible seaweeds collected along the Chinese coastline

Edible seaweeds with a relatively high total arsenic concentration have been a global concern. As the largest seaweed producer, China contributes about 60 % of the global seaweed production. The present study investigated 20 seaweed species collected from representative seaweed farming sites in the six provinces along the Chinese coastline, of which Saccharina japonicaUndaria pinnatifidaNeopyropia spp., Gracilaria spp., Sargassum fusiforme were listed as the most consumed seaweeds in Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The inorganic arsenic (iAs) concentration in most of the seaweeds was below maximum limits (0.3 mg iAs/kg) as seaweed additives for infant food in the National Food Safety Standard of Pollutants in China (GB2762-2017, 2017), except for the species Sargassum, in which the iAs concentration significantly exceeded the limit and ranged from 15.1 to 83.7 mg/kg. Arsenic speciation in 4 cultivated seaweeds grown in both temperate and subtropical zones is reported for the first time. No significant differences in total As and iAs concentration were identified, except slightly higher total As concentration were found in Saccharina japonica growing in the temperate zone. The estimated daily intake (EDI) of toxic iAs via seaweed consumption was generally below the EFSA CONTAM Panel benchmark dose lower confidence limit (0.3 μg/kg bw/day) except for all Sargassum species where the EDI was significantly higher than 0.3 μg/kg bw/day. Moreover, the first-ever reported data on As speciation indicated very high iAs concentrations in Sargassum hemiphyllum and Sargassum henslowianum. To minimize the food chain iAs exposure, reducing both human intake of Sargassum spp. and the used of Sargassum spp. for animal feed is highly recommended.

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