Arsenic, cadmium and lead concentrations in Yerba mate commercialized in Southern Brazil by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry
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ABSTRACT: “Mate” or “Yerba Mate” (Ilex paraguariensis) is a native South American plant, commonly consumed in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and southern Brazil. Recent research has detected the presence of many vitamins and metals in this plant. Theses metals are also part of yerba mate’s mineral composition, due to soil and water contamination by pesticides and fertilizers, coal and oil combustion, vehicle emissions, mining, smelting, refining and the incineration of urban and industrial waste. Regardless of their origin, some inorganic elements, such as arsenic, cadmium and lead, are considered toxic, since they accumulate in all plant tissues and are, thus, introduced into the food chain. In this context, the aim of the present study was to determine and compare arsenic, cadmium, lead concentrations in 104 samples of yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) marketed, and consumed in three southern Brazilian States, namely Paraná (PR), Santa Catarina (SC) and Rio Grande do Sul (RS). Each element was determined by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), on a Nexion 300D equipment (Perkin Elmer). As, Cd and Pb concentrations in yerba mate leaves ranged from 0.015 to 0.15mg kg-1, 0.18 to 1.25mg kg-1 and 0.1 to 1.20mg kg-1, respectively. Regarding Cd, 84% of the samples from RS, 63% from PR and 75% from SC showed higher concentrations than the maximum permissible limit of 0.4mg kg-1 established by the Brazilian National Sanitary Surveillance Agency (ANVISA), while 7% of the samples from RS and 5% from PR were unsatisfactory for Pb. Concentrations were below the established ANVISA limit of 0.6mg kg-1 for all samples.