As the consumption of Puerh tea is booming because of its multiple health-promoting effects, the possible health risks resulting from long-term exposure to metals contained in this tea need to be evaluated. To assess the human risk associated with drinking Puerh tea, concentrations of aluminium, lead, cadmium, mercury, zinc, copper and arsenic were determined in samples of Puerh tea, tea leaves from the plants, and planted soil collected from the Yunnan province, China. Site-specific exposure parameters such as body weight and consumption rate of Puerh tea were investigated in Kunming and Puer cities using face-to-face surveys. Health risks were evaluated for the inhabitants of Kunming and Puer cities by gender and by age groups. Although the Puerh tea plant easily absorbs aluminium from soil, the concentrations of Al and six other elements in Puerh tea were all far below the safety concentration limits of China. Both the HQ (Hazard Quotient) values for single elements and the HI (Hazard Index) value for all seven elements were far below one, indicating no non-carcinogenic risks from these seven elements for inhabitants of Kunming and Puer under the current consumption rates of Puerh tea. However, probabilistic estimation of carcinogenic risk shows that the 95th percentile carcinogenic rate of arsenic in Puerh tea approaches the accepted risk level of 10 − 4 for the highest exposure group. Therefore, the arsenic in Puerh tea is of concern.
Science of the Total Environment – Elsevier
Published: Jun 15, 2010
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