Open Access Highly Accessed Commentary

Mercury from chlor-alkali plants: measured concentrations in food product sugar

Renee Dufault1*, Blaise LeBlanc2, Roseanne Schnoll3, Charles Cornett4, Laura Schweitzer4, David Wallinga5, Jane Hightower6, Lyn Patrick7 and Walter J Lukiw8

Author Affiliations

1 United Tribes Technical College, Bismarck, ND, USA

2 Carl Hayden Bee Research Center, Tucson, AZ, USA

3 Department of Health and Nutrition Sciences, Brooklyn College of CUNY, Brooklyn, NY, USA

4 Department of Chemistry and Engineering Physics, University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Platteville, WI, USA

5 Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Minneapolis, MN, USA

6 Department of Internal Medicine, California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco, CA, USA

7 Contributing Editor, Alternative Medicine Review, Durango, CO, USA

8 Professor of Neuroscience and Ophthalmology, LSU Neuroscience Center. Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, LA, USA

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Environmental Health 2009, 8:2  doi:10.1186/1476-069X-8-2

Published: 26 January 2009

Abstract

Mercury cell chlor-alkali products are used to produce thousands of other products including food ingredients such as citric acid, sodium benzoate, and high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup is used in food products to enhance shelf life. A pilot study was conducted to determine if high fructose corn syrup contains mercury, a toxic metal historically used as an anti-microbial. High fructose corn syrup samples were collected from three different manufacturers and analyzed for total mercury. The samples were found to contain levels of mercury ranging from below a detection limit of 0.005 to 0.570 micrograms mercury per gram of high fructose corn syrup. Average daily consumption of high fructose corn syrup is about 50 grams per person in the United States. With respect to total mercury exposure, it may be necessary to account for this source of mercury in the diet of children and sensitive populations.