Heavy metal

Arsenic and other heavy metals, such as cadmium, lead and mercury, are considered toxic and have negative effects on health in human metabolism. The accumulation of heavy metals in the food chain can occur by bio-concentration, for example, from water or food source. The main sources of heavy metals are fish and seafood, fruits and vegetables, nuts and cereals. In the case of lead, drinking water is also of major importance. As the toxicological effects of heavy metals and arsenic on babies and infants are of particular relevance, the safety of baby food is also the focus.


  • Lead has a very low acute toxicity. The most important long-term effects are its neurotoxicity in infants and its effects on the cardiovascular tissue of adults.
  • Cadmium is mainly nephrotoxic and can cause bone demineralization.
  • Mercury occurs mainly as methyl mercury in fish and seafood and is extremely toxic to the nervous system. Other foods usually contain less toxic inorganic mercury.
  • Arsenic also occurs in organic and inorganic compounds, of which the latter is clearly more toxic and can cause cancer of the skin, lungs and urinary tract.

Regulators around the world have set maximum limits for lead, cadmium and mercury in various food groups, such as meat, fish, seafood, cereals, vegetables, fruits and their products, fats and oils, milk, baby food and infant formulas.

Specific analyzes:

Along with classical atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS) with a graphite or cold vapor furnace, respectively, the ICP-OES and ICP-MS techniques are the most frequently used. To achieve the lowest detection limits to analyze trace amounts, ICA R&D offers high-resolution ICP-MS (HR-ICP-MS) as a modern method for testing heavy metals. Of course, the differentiation of organic and inorganic arsenic and mercury, as well as the determination of a wide range of metals and additional elements through AAS and ICP techniques are part of our portfolio.

Metals and non-metals determined:

  • Aluminum
  • Arsenic
  • Cadmium
  • Chromium
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Mercury
  • Nickel
  • Lead
  • Selenium
  • Tin
  • Zinc, etc.

For more information, you can always contact an ICA R&D representative, to provide you with all the necessary information and guide you in choosing the set of analyzes you need so that we can then make you an offer of services appropriate to the situation and your product.

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