Presence and risks of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in dietary plant supplements as elucidated by a combined DR CALUX® bioassay and GC-HRMS based approach

Felicia Akuamoa*, Ron L.A.P. Hoogenboom, Yoran Weide, Guido van der Weg, Ivonne M.C.M. Rietjens, Toine F.H. Bovee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Plant-based dietary supplements may contain undesirable contaminants such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (dl-PCBs) due to the sources of raw materials or processing methods used. The presence of these contaminants in a series of herbal supplements sold on the Ghanaian market for improving sexual performance was examined using the DR CALUX® bioassay in combination with GC-HRMS analysis. Overall, cell responses at 4 and 48 h exposure to extracts prepared without an acid-silica clean-up were relatively higher than the responses obtained from extracts prepared with an acid-silica clean-up. This indicated that the 40 supplements contained only low levels of stable aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) agonists like polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) and dl-PCBs, while some contained substantial amounts of less stable AhR-agonists. Ten supplements selected for confirmation with GC-HRMS analysis contained PCDD/Fs and dl-PCBs at levels ranging from 0.01 to 0.19 pg toxic equivalent (TEQ)/g only, while the level of the sum of 4 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (Σ4PAHs) representing less stable AhR agonists, ranged from not detected (ND) to 25.5 ng/g. These concentrations were in line with the responses observed in the DR CALUX® bioassay. The concentration of PCDD/Fs and dl-PCBs corresponded to estimated daily intakes (EDIs) ranging from 0.01 to 1.20 pg TEQ/day, or 0.001 to 0.12 pg TEQ/kg bw/week for a 70 kg bw consumer, which was below the established tolerable weekly intake (TWI) of 2 pg TEQ/kg bw/week, thus indicating low concern for consumers’ health. Similarly, the EDIs based on the detected Σ4PAHs in supplements ranged from 7.2 to 111 ng/day, or 0.1 to 1.6 ng/kg bw/day, which corresponded to MOE values above 10,000, indicating a low health concern.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1576-1590
JournalFood Additives and Contaminants - Part A
Volume39
Issue number9
Early online date29 Jul 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2022

Keywords

  • Bioassay chromatography
  • GC/MS PAH Dioxins Dioxins
  • TEQs Dietary supplements

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