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Analysis of Total Arsenic Content in California Wines and Comparison to Various Health Risk Criteria is available in print

Cardno ChemRisk’s recent article “Analysis of Total Arsenic Content in California Wines and Comparison to Various Health Risk Criteria,” is now available in print in the April, 2016 of the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture

This paper evaluates the potential arsenic exposure from consuming California wines and assesses the risk posed by such exposure. Cardno ChemRisk assessed the total arsenic content in over 100 bottles of California wine, including some publicized by the media as “high arsenic” wines and others that were randomly selected. The publicized wines were found to have greater total arsenic concentrations (mean = 25.6 μg/L) than the randomly selected wines (mean = 7.42 μg/L). Analysis by wine type indicated that blush wines contained the highest concentrations of arsenic (mean = 27.2 μg/L), followed by white (mean = 10.9 μg/L) and red wines (mean = 6.75 μg/L). In addition, we found that there was a significant relationship between wine price and arsenic content; as the price increased, the arsenic content decreased.  

Using standard risk assessment principles, we evaluated whether or not the presence of arsenic in wine could pose a health risk to consumers. Multiple factors were considered in our analysis, including the wine’s arsenic concentration, a consumer’s age and body weight, frequency of wine consumption, total lifetime wine consumption, and dietary arsenic consumption in the general population. We found that the amount of arsenic in wine only contributed to a fraction (8.3% or less) of a consumer’s total arsenic exposure received via his or her diet. 

Not a single California wine tested had arsenic concentrations above the current Canadian and International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) limits for arsenic in wine (100 µg/L and 200 µg/L, respectively). To date, the United States does not have a regulatory limit for arsenic content in wine. Our analysis found that the likelihood of any California wine exceeding the Health Canada limit of 100 µg/L is below 0.3%. Ultimately, then, this research demonstrates that the presence of arsenic in wine does not represent a health risk for consumers.  

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