Dietary intake of pesticide residues: cadmium, mercury, and lead

Food Addit Contam. Nov-Dec 1991;8(6):793-806. doi: 10.1080/02652039109374038.


Information on the dietary intake of chemical contaminants has been obtained from institutions participating in GEMS/Food. Contaminants studied include certain organochlorine and organophosphorous pesticides, PCBs, cadmium, mercury, and lead. The intakes are compared with toxicologically acceptable intake levels established by international expert groups. In most cases, dietary intakes of organochlorine and organophosphorous pesticides are well below the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of the respective pesticide. Of some 21 countries providing information on the average dietary intake of cadmium, only in one case is the Provisional Tolerable Weekly Intake (PTWI) exceeded. Several countries identified cereals and cereal products and root and tuber vegetables as the main contributors to the dietary intake of cadmium. For mercury, all reported intakes are below the PTWI of methylmercury. The contribution of fish to the total intake of mercury varied from 20% to 85%, depending on the country. Therefore, the general assumption that fish is the main contributor to the total dietary intake of mercury may, at times, not be justified. Average dietary intake of lead exceeding or approaching the PTWI are reported for adults and infants and children in some countries. Foodstuffs which contribute most to the intake of lead vary from country to country, and have been identified as being alternately drinking water, beverages, cereals, vegetables and fruit.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Beverages
  • Cadmium / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Diet*
  • Edible Grain
  • Fishes
  • Food Contamination*
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lead / administration & dosage*
  • Mercury / administration & dosage*
  • Pesticide Residues*
  • Vegetables
  • Water


  • Pesticide Residues
  • Cadmium
  • Water
  • Lead
  • Mercury