Assessment of exposure to inorganic arsenic, a human carcinogen, due to the consumption of seafood

Arch Toxicol. 1996;70(11):773-8. doi: 10.1007/s002040050339.


To assess whether regular consumption of seafood, particularly fish and shellfish, by humans may lead to an overexposure to inorganic arsenic, a well-established human carcinogen, the urinary excretion of the relevant As metabolites (Asi, inorganic form; MMA, monomethylarsonic acid; DMA, dimethylarsinic acid) was compared in groups of subjects with different seafood consumption habits and in volunteers after ingestion of a known amount of seafood arsenicals. Studies of Italian cohorts, involving five groups of +/-30 subjects with different seafood consumption habits, and balance studies in Belgian volunteers failed to show a biologically significant absorption of inorganic arsenic either present as such in the food or formed from organoarsenicals during cooking or digestion. The results suggest that the digestion of some seafood, especially mussels, may increase the urinary excretion of the dimethylated arsenic metabolite. Therefore, the biological monitoring of exposure to inorganic arsenic in an industrial context should mainly rely upon specific measurement of the unmetabolized form when recent ingestion of seafood cannot be excluded.

MeSH terms

  • Arsenic / toxicity*
  • Carcinogens / toxicity*
  • Food Contamination / analysis
  • Humans
  • Risk Assessment
  • Seafood / toxicity*


  • Carcinogens
  • Arsenic