Monitoring the content and intake of trace elements from food in Denmark

Erik Huusfeldt Larsen, N. L. Andersen, A. Møller, Annette Petersen, Gerda Krog Mortensen, J. Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The content of cadmium, lead, nickel, mercury and selenium in 83 foods was monitored from 1993 to 1997. In comparison with similar results from 1988 to 1992, a general decrease in lead levels had occurred, whereas the contents of cadmium, nickel, mercury and selenium were stable or declined only slightly. The distribution in dietary intake of the five trace elements was estimated by combining the mean trace element concentrations with food consumption data from 1837 Danes aged 15-80 years. The lead intake for 1993-97 showed a decrease in comparison with similar estimates from the previous monitoring cycles: 1983-87 and 1988-92. The intake of cadmium and mercury decreased to a lesser extent, whereas the intake of selenium and nickel remained unchanged in the same period. The dietary intake of trace elements was compared with the provisional tolerable weekly intake (PTWI). The 95th percentile of the distribution in cadmium intake amounts to 34% of PTWI, which is relatively high, and therefore calls for a more detailed future risk assessment. The intakes of lead and mercury were 11% of PTWI and, like the intake of nickel, did not cause any health concern in the adult population. The Danes ingest close to 100% of the Nordic Nutrition Recommendation for selenium at 50 mug day(-1), and no individuals had an intake less than the lower limit of 20 mug day(-1).
Original languageEnglish
JournalFood Additives and Contaminants
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)33-46
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Trace elements
  • Cadmium
  • Lead
  • Nickel
  • Mercury
  • Selenium
  • Intake
  • Health risk assessment


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