A report published in the journal Epidemiology suggested that people who eat a gluten-free diet might be at risk of increased exposure to arsenic and mercury. While people with celiac disease are advised to eat a diet that is free of gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, the number of people eating gluten-free diets has increased significantly the past several years. More than a quarter of Americans in 2015 claimed to be eating a gluten-free diet, an increase of 67 percent from 2013. Many gluten-free products use rice flour as a substitute for wheat. Rice is known to accumulate toxic metals such as arsenic and mercury from fertilizers, soil and water.
Authors of the report from the UIC School of Public Health reviewed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to determine if there is a connection between gluten-free diet and biomarkers of toxic metals in blood and urine. Of the 7,471 people that completed the survey between 2009 and 2014, 73 participants were eating gluten-free. Arsenic levels in the 73 participants were nearly twice as high and mercury levels were 70 percent higher than others surveyed.
Maria Argos, assistant professor of epidemiology in the UIC School of Public Health, said, “These results indicate that there could be unintended consequences of eating a gluten-free diet. But until we perform the studies to determine if there are corresponding health consequences that could be related to higher levels of exposure to arsenic and mercury by eating gluten-free, more research is needed before we can determine whether this diet poses a significant health risk.”
Teledyne Leeman Labs recently published a technical note describing analysis of rice flour from the National Institute of Standards and Technology on its Hydra IIc Mercury Analyzer, an independent stand-alone analyzer that uses Cold Vapor Atomic Absorbance (CVAA) spectroscopy to obtain reliable quantitative data from simple to complex matrices. It does this by direct combustion combined with a proprietary catalyst to remove interfering compounds such as sulfur and nitrogen oxides. The analysis method used the moisture control system described in Teledyne Leeman Labs Application Note – AN1701.
When used in standard combustion mode for determining total mercury, the Hydra IIc eliminates sample pretreatment and the generation of wastes associated with wet chemistry. Samples were introduced into the analyzer using an automated sequence. Unattended analysis of individual samples was completed in approximately six minutes. Direct analysis of the mercury content by thermal decomposition is described in methods USEP 7623, 7473 and ASTM 6722.
For additional details on method parameters, instrument calibration, procedures and results, download the technical note from Teledyne Leeman Labs.
The analysis described in the technical note found that with the addition of the moisture control systems, the Hydra IIc in standard mode is an ideal system for determining mercury concentration in rice flour.
For more information on Mercury Analyzers, visit http://www.teledyneleemanlabs.com/products/mercury-analyzers or contact us today