Lead

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Changed on: 22.03.2017

Lead is a natural environmental contaminant and due to erosion and volcanic activity is found in the environment everywhere. However, lead also enters the environment due to industrial emissions. A large proportion of it stems from anthropogenic activities such as mining and smelting of metals, production of batteries, munitions and metal water pipes. In the past lead was also used in paints and in petrol. With the prohibition of leaded petrol, a principal source of lead contamination in the environment was removed.

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Lead is a natural environmental contaminant and due to erosion and volcanic activity is found in the environment everywhere. However, lead also enters the environment due to industrial emissions. A large proportion of it stems from anthropogenic activities such as mining and smelting of metals, production of batteries, munitions and metal water pipes. In the past lead was also used in paints and in petrol. With the prohibition of leaded petrol, a principal source of lead contamination in the environment was removed.

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Toxicity

Gastric pains are a typical indication of acute lead poisoning, particularly in cases of workplace-related exposure and very high lead intake levels. In addition, symptoms such as stomach pains, constipation, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite may also arise. However, due to the long half-life of lead in the body, chronic toxicity is of greater significance.

With chronic oral exposure to inorganic lead, various organ systems can be affected. The central nervous system is the most important target organ in lead poisoning. Even at relatively low levels of lead in the blood, a correlation has also been identified in a series of studies between lead concentration in the blood, elevated systolic blood pressure and chronic kidney disease.

 

 

 

Absorption

Food-based exposure in the Austrian population has been calculated by using the average levels contained in foodstuffs and average data on food consumption for various groups in the population.
Intake by humans occurs principally through consuming contaminated foodstuffs.

The principal sources of lead intake in adults are sausage and meat products in particular, as well as vegetables and vegetable products including mushrooms. In children, fruit and vegetable juices and nectars also play a significant role in overall intake.

 

 

Risk assessment

The intake levels in people who eat an average amount and of those who eat large amounts both lie within the toxicological reference limits. Based on the data available, the health risk posed to the Austrian population by the absorption of lead via food is therefore rated as low.

Maximum limits in foodstuffs

Maximum limits in foodstuffs

The European Commission set maximum limits for lead in certain foodstuffs on 25/06/2015. The maximum limits for lead came into force on 1 January 2016.  

Leadmg/kg foodstuff
3.1.1. Raw milk, heat-treated milk and milk for the manufacture of milk-based products0,020
3.1.2 Infant formula and follow-on formula
marketed as powder 0,050
marketed as liquid0,010
3.1.3 Processed cereal-based foods and baby food for infants and young children other than products listed under 3.1.5 0,050
3.1.4 Foods for special medical purposes intended specifically for infants and young children
marketed as powder0,050
marketed as liquid0,010
3.1.5 Drinks for infants and young children labelled and sold as such, other than those mentioned in 3.1.2 and 3.1.4
marketed as liquids or to be reconstituted according to the instructions of the manufacturer, including fruit juices 0,030
to be prepared by infusion or decoction1,50
3.1.6 Meat (excluding offal) from cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry 0,10
3.1.7 Offal from cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry0,50
3.1.8 Muscle meat of fish 0,30
3.1.9 Cephalopods0,30
3.1.10  Crustaceans 0,50
3.1.11 Bivalve molluscs1,50
3.1.12

Cereals and pulses

0,20
3.1.13 Vegetables excluding leafy brassica, salsify, leaf vegetables and fresh herbs, fungi, seaweed and fruiting vegetables 0,10
3.1.14 Leafy brassica, salsify, leaf vegetables excluding fresh herbs and the following fungi: Agaricus bisporus (common mushroom), Pleurotus ostreatus (oyster mushroom), Lentinula edodes (shiitake mushroom)0,30
3.1.15 Fruiting vegetables
Sweetcorn0,10
other than sweetcorn0,05
3.1.16 Fruit excluding cranberries, currants, elderberries and strawberry tree fruit0,10
3.1.17Cranberries, currants, elderberries and strawberry tree fruit0,20
3.1.18Fats and oils, including milk fat0,10
3.1.19 Fruit juices, concentrated fruit juices as reconstituted and fruit nectars
exclusively from berries and other small fruits0,05
from fruits other than berries and other small fruits0,03
3.1.20 Wine (including sparkling wine and excluding liqueur wine), cider, perry and fruit wine
products produced from the 2001 grape harvest to the 2015 grape harvest0,20
products produced from the 2016 grape harvest onwards0,15
3.1.21 Aromatised wine, aromatised wine-based drinks and aromatised wine-product cocktails
products produced from the 2001 grape harvest to the 2015 grape harvest0,20
products produced from the 2016 grape harvest onwards0,15
3.1.22 Food supplements3,0
3.1.23 Honey0,10

 Link to Regulation (EU) 2015/1005

Link zur Verordnung (EU) 2015/1005

 

 


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