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Update of the risk assessment of inorganic arsenic in food

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Note: A plain language summary of this scientific opinion is available at


The European Commission asked EFSA to update its 2009 risk assessment on arsenic in food carrying out a hazard assessment of inorganic arsenic (iAs) and using the revised exposure assessment issued by EFSA in 2021. Epidemiological studies show that the chronic intake of iAs via diet and/or drinking water is associated with increased risk of several adverse outcomes including cancers of the skin, bladder and lung. The CONTAM Panel used the benchmark dose lower confidence limit based on a benchmark response (BMR) of 5% (relative increase of the background incidence after adjustment for confounders, BMDL05) of 0.06 μg iAs/kg bw per day obtained from a study on skin cancer as a Reference Point (RP). Inorganic As is a genotoxic carcinogen with additional epigenetic effects and the CONTAM Panel applied a margin of exposure (MOE) approach for the risk characterisation. In adults, the MOEs are low (range between 2 and 0.4 for mean consumers and between 0.9 and 0.2 at the 95th percentile exposure, respectively) and as such raise a health concern despite the uncertainties.