Superfund Research Program
Trace Elements Analysis Core
The goal of the Trace Element Analysis (TEA) Core is to provide state of the art analytical resources and expertise to Dartmouth Superfund projects.
Studies and Results
The TEA Core also adds value to the projects by providing method development and therefore allowing new avenues of research such as:
- The determination and speciation of arsenic in foods, including infant formulas, toddler formulas and products containing brown rice syrup in support of Arsenic Uptake, Transport and Accumulation in Plants and Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Exposure Assessment of Metals.
- The determination of arsenic in drinking water and in the (sub mg) toenails of infants in support of Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Exposure Assessment of Metals to allow the investigation of low level arsenic exposure in early life.
- The novel use of species specific enriched stable mercury isotopes to elucidate how inorganic mercury and methylmercury enter into the aquatic food chain in support of Bioaccumulation and Trophic Transfer of Hg in Aquatic Food Webs.
- The determination of arsenic in mouse diets, water, urine, feces and milk in support of Arsenic as an Endocrine Disrupter.
The work of the TEA Core on the occurrence of arsenic in food was the main highlight in 2012. The on-line publication of the Environmental Health Perspectives paper received 23,000 'hits' during the first week that it was posted. The researchers showed that the use of rice or rice products, specifically brown rice syrup in the case of the EHP paper, increased the arsenic concentrations in food. The use of organic brown rice syrup in toddler formula caused the total arsenic concentration of the formula to be around 20 times higher than other infant or toddler formulas and above the EPA safe drinking water limit for inorganic arsenic for the soy-based toddler formula. The study was reported by all the major news agencies on the day of release and also prompted press release responses from The US Rice Federation, the US FDA and the Organic Trade Association. Many individuals contacted Jackson via e-mail or telephone to ask questions about the study and, while concerned over the findings of the study, were overwhelmingly supportive and appreciative of the research.
The Core's work on toenail analysis has been used by collaborators from the National Cancer Institute in Spain to show a positive association of cadmium, arsenic and lead and a negative association of nickel and selenium in risk of exocrine pancreatic cancer.
The work of the TEA Core on arsenic in food contributed to the growing calls from scientists and consumers for regulatory guidelines or limits on inorganic arsenic in foodstuffs. National agencies such as the US FDA and international agencies such as the WHO are currently considering these issues and the researchers expect guidelines to be issued in the relatively near future.
The TEA Core will work with Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Exposure Assessment of Metals to develop methods for the determination of arsenic in breast milk and for the elemental mapping of arsenic in placenta, and with Arsenic and the Ubiquitin-Lysosome Pathway to speciate arsenic in lung epithelial cells. The Core will work with Arsenic Uptake, Transport and Accumulation in Plants and pursue further determinations of arsenic in foods with a focus on rice-based gluten-free foods. The Core will also continue to work with Bioaccumulation and Trophic Transfer of Hg in Aquatic Food Webs in the application of enriched isotopic mercury tracers to study mercury biogeochemistry.