WIT Press

Heavy Metal Characterization Of Chinese Spices And Herbs Using GFAAS And CVAAS


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Paper DOI






Page Range

221 - 230




2,496 kb


P. Sarojam, D. Hoult & J.-M. Chen


Heavy metals have important positive and negative roles in human life. Some heavy metals are considered essential, and these include iron, zinc and copper, while some other metals such as mercury, cadmium, lead and arsenic have toxic roles in biochemical reactions of our body. The addition of spices, which may be contaminated with trace and heavy metals, to food as a habit may result in the accumulation of these metals in human organs. India and China have a high diversity of plants used as spices, herbs, and traditional medicines. Several herbs and spices are either produced on small farmlands or are grown naturally in different regions. There is often little information available about the safety of those plants and their products in respect to heavy metal contamination. Due to the significant amount of spices consumed, it is important to know the toxic metal contents in these spices. The objective of this work is two-fold: (1) to accurately analyze the levels of toxic heavy metals like mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic that may be present in some major spice brands available in the local markets in China, by using graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrophotometry (GFAAS), cold vapor atomic absorption spectrophotometry (CVAAS) with confirmation by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS); (2) to cross-reference these measured levels to the recommended limits specified by the U.S.FDA. Keywords: heavy metals, CVAAS, GFAAS, ICPMS, spices, herbs.


heavy metals, CVAAS, GFAAS, ICPMS, spices, herbs