Adopted: 12 October 2009
Opinion (1.3Mb) Summary
Arsenic is a metalloid that occurs in different inorganic and organic forms, which are found in the environment both from natural occurrence and from anthropogenic activity. The inorganic forms of arsenic are more toxic as compared to the organic arsenic but so far most of the occurrence data in food collected in the framework of official food control are still reported as total arsenic without differentiating the various arsenic species. The need for speciation data is evident because several investigations have shown that especially in seafood most of the arsenic is present in organic forms that are less toxic. Consequently, a risk assessment not taking into account the different species but considering total arsenic as being present exclusively as inorganic arsenic would lead to a considerable overestimation of the health risk related to dietary arsenic exposure.