A recently published study by a team of researchers in California found that some children of preschool age are at risk of exposure to certain foodborne contaminants, including arsenic, certain pesticides, dioxins and acrylamide.
The researchers, from UC Davis and UCLA and lead by Professor Irva Hertz-Picciotto, used data from the 2007 Study of Use of Products and Exposure-Related Behaviour (SUPERB) to help understand dietary exposure to toxins. SUPERB examined 44 foods associated with high levels of toxins, including metals, pesticides, environmental pollutants and acrylamide, in a survey of Californian households with young children.
Comparing data on dietary exposure in children with established benchmarks for cancer and non-cancer risks enabled the researchers to assess the risks from a number of toxins. They found that all the 364 children in the study exceeded cancer benchmarks for arsenic, dieldrin, DDE and dioxins, while 95% of pre-school children exceeded non-cancer risk levels for acrylamide. Pesticide exposure was found to be especially high in a wide range of fruit and vegetables, including tomatoes, grapes, lettuce, spinach, apples and strawberries.
While the authors state that their findings are a cause for concern, they also outline mitigating steps that could be taken by changes to the diets of young children and to food production methods. The study will be published in the journal Environmental Health and the full text can now be accessed here.