Occurrence, Source and Dietary Exposure of Toxic and Essential Elements in the Indian Food Basket
In this study, representative urban and peri-urban Indian food baskets have been studied for the presence of toxic and essential elements. The concentration of target toxic and essential elements was used to estimate dietary intakes (EDIs) and health risks. Across all food matrices, toxic elements like Cd and Pb were dominant. The highest concentrations of the target elements were found in vegetables, with Cd, Pb, and Ni being beyond permissible limits of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health organization (0.05 mg/kg, 0.1 mg/kg, and 1.5 mg/kg, respectively) in okra, spinach, and cauliflower. The sum of concentrations of the toxic elements (As, Ni, Hg, Cr, Cd, Pb) in vegetables had a range of 0.54–12.08 mg/kg, the highest sum was found in spinach (median 12.08 mg/kg), followed by okra (median 1.68 mg/kg). The EDI was observed for vegetables with a contribution as high as 92% for Cd. Dairy products were found with the highest loading for Ni with a dietary intake of 3.1 mg/kg/day for adults and twice as much for children. Carcinogenic risk for Ni was the highest and found above the threshold for all food categories, as was the case with As. Cumulative carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic risks were mostly contributed by milk and vegetables, in particular, spinach.