Occurrence of toluene in Canadian total diet foods and its significance to overall human exposure.

img 2018, Food additives & contaminants. Part A, Chemistry, analysis, control, exposure & risk assessment

Cao Xu-Liang, Dabeka Robert

Levels of most VOCs in foods are usually low because of their volatility, and human exposure to VOCs is expected to be mainly via inhalation of ambient and indoor air. However, dietary exposures to VOCs can be significant to overall exposures if elevated concentrations of VOCs are present in foods consumed in high amounts and/or on a regular basis, and this was demonstrated in this study with the occurrence data of toluene from the recent 2014 Canadian Total Diet Study (TDS). Concentrations of toluene in the composite samples of most food types from the 2014 TDS are low and similar to the results from the previous 2007 TDS with some exceptions, such as beef steak (670 ng/g (2014 TDS) vs. 14 ng/g (2007 TDS)), poultry, chicken and turkey (307 ng/g (2014 TDS) vs. 8.8 ng/g (2007 TDS)). Toluene concentrations in most of the grain-based and fast food composite samples from the 2014 TDS are considerably higher than those from the 2007 TDS, with the highest level of 4655 ng/g found in the composite sample of crackers from the 2014 TDS (compared to 18 ng/g from 2007 TDS). Dietary exposure estimates for toluene based on the occurrence results from the 2014 TDS show that for most of the age groups, grain-based foods are the primary source, accounting for an average of 77.5% of the overall toluene intake from the diet. The highest dietary exposures to toluene were observed for the adult age groups, with estimated average exposures ranging from 177.4 to 184.5 µg/d. Dietary exposure estimates to toluene are well below oral doses associated with toxicological effects and also below the maximum estimated intake (819 µg/d) from air inhalation for adult group (20 - 70 years) based on the results from CEPA (Canadian Environmental Protection Act) assessment in 1992.

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