Journal of Environmental Health
October 2015, Volume 78, No. 3, 16–22
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Arsenic Content in American Wine
Denise Wilson, Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Washington
Recent studies that have investigated arsenic content in juice, rice, milk, broth (beef and chicken), and other foods have stimulated an interest in understanding how prevalent arsenic contamination is in the U.S. food and beverage supply. The study described here focuses on quantifying arsenic levels in wine. A total of 65 representative wines from the top four wine-producing states in the U.S. were analyzed for arsenic content. All samples contained arsenic levels that exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) exposure limit for drinking water of 10 parts per billion (ppb) and all samples contained inorganic arsenic. The average arsenic detected among all samples studied was 23.3 ppb. Lead, a common co-contaminant to arsenic, was detected in 58% of samples tested, but only 5% exceeded the U.S. EPA exposure limit for drinking water of 15 ppb. Arsenic levels in American wines exceeded those found in other studies involving water, bottled water, apple juice, apple juice blend, milk, rice syrup, and other beverages. When taken in the context of consumption patterns in the U.S., the pervasive presence of arsenic in wine can pose a potential health risk to regular adult wine drinkers.