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

Environ Health. 2009 Jan 26;8:2. doi: 10.1186/1476-069X-8-2.


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.

Publication types

  • Editorial

MeSH terms

  • Alkalies / analysis
  • Chemical Industry
  • Chlorine / chemistry
  • Dietary Sucrose / analysis*
  • Environmental Pollution / analysis
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Food-Processing Industry
  • Fructose / analysis*
  • Mercury / analysis*
  • Sweetening Agents / analysis
  • United States
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency


  • Alkalies
  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Fructose
  • Chlorine
  • Mercury