Heavy Metal Exposure in Childhood Food Staples – The Peanut Butter & ‘Jelly’ Studies

New Focus on Old Contaminants (e.g., lead, mercury, PCBs)
Oral Presentation

Prepared by

Contact Information: patkins@spex.com; 732-623-0470


ABSTRACT

Children are often known for their lack of food choices. But, many parents and caregivers know that there are usually some favorite childhood foods which are continuously part of a child’s diet, such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and raisins. Over the last few years, studies have found high levels of contamination in grapes and grape products such as juice and wine. Recent studies have been conducted showing the presence of arsenic in apple juices and wine. Arsenic based pesticides, particularly lead arsenate, were in widespread and use in the United States up until the final ban in 1988. Despite arsenic residue being recognized as a potential problem from the turn of the century, lead arsenate was one of the most widely used pesticides in the nation and was applied to millions of acres of crops through the 1940’s. Lead arsenate was the most commonly applied pesticide in fruit orchards, many still in use, so potential for arsenic contamination remains. Heavy metal pesticides were designed to be persistent and can cause environmental and health problems decades after being banned. In this study, samples were obtained of popular organic and regular raisins and peanut butter found in local supermarkets and stores. Samples were digested using microwave digestion and testing by ICP-MS to determine heavy metal contamination possible in these common childhood foods.