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UK researchers have discovered most European wine nations are exporting red and white wines with potentially dangerous levels of at least seven heavy metals reports WebMD.
The findings appear in the Oct. 29 issue of Chemistry Central Journal.
One glass of wine per day could end up more costly than you imagined according to Kingston University in London scientists Declan Naughton and Andrea Petroczi.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has designed a measure of ‘target hazard quotients’ (THQs) to determine the safe levels of frequent, long-term exposure to various chemicals, which Naughton calculated for 15 wines from Europe, the Middle East, and South America.
Typical wines have a THQ ranging from 50 to 200 per glass with some up 300, while in comparison seafood THQs that typically range between 1 and 5 have raised concerns about heavy-metal contamination.
A THQ over 1 indicates a health risk.
"I was surprised at this finding, and would be very interested if regulatory authorities and food-safety people will look at this. The wine industry should look at ways to remove these metals from wine, or to find out where the metals come from and prevent this from happening", Mr Naughton said to WebMD.
Vanadium, copper and manganese accounted for the majority of contamination, but zinc, chromium, lead and nickel were also found with THQs over 1.
University of Rochester, N.Y behavioral neurotoxicologist Bernard Weiss, PhD is most worried about the effects of one metal in particular – manganese, which accumulates in the brain and has been linked to Parkinson’s disease.
"From the point of view of just one of these metals in wine, manganese, I would be concerned. Any time you see numbers like they have in this study, you begin to scratch your head and wonder about the effects over a long period of ingestion: Not one glass of wine last Tuesday, but a glass a day over a lifetime”, Mr Weiss said to WebMD.
Italy, Brazil and Argentina however, were found to have safe levels of heavy metals.
The worst level of THQs were found in wines from these countries:
• Czech Republic
France, Austria, Spain, Germany, and Portugal’s maximum potential THQ values were over 100, while Hungary and Slovakia had maximum potential THQ values over 350.
Argentinean and Italian wines had no significant maximum THQ values.
"If you buy a bottle of wine, the only thing it tells you on the label is the amount of alcohol. I like the idea of labeling wines with the amounts of heavy metals they contain. Many wines don't have these metals. So let customers vote by choice whether they want the heavy metals", Naughton said to WebMD.
Possible sources for the heavy metal contamination include the soil of the vineyards, fungicides used, and contaminants in the fermenting yeasts.
Naughton and Petroczi calculated THQs from data published in scientific journals rather than directly measuring the wines. They also point out that drinking red wine has been linked to health benefits because of its antioxidants.
"However, the finding of hazardous levels of metal ions which can be pro-oxidants leads to a major question mark over the protective benefits of red wine," they suggest.