Journal of environmental science and health. Part. B, Pesticides, food contaminants, and agricultural wastes

Determination of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in dry tea.

PMID 26065515


Twenty-eight different tea samples sold in the United States were evaluated using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with fluorescence detection (FLD) for their contamination with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Many PAHs exhibit carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic properties and have been related to several kinds of cancer in man and experimental animals. The presence of PAHs in environmental samples such as water, sediments, and particulate air has been extensively studied, but food samples have received little attention. Eighteen PAHs congeners were analyzed, with percentage recovery higher than 85%. Contamination expressed as the sum of the 18 analyzed PAHs was between 101 and 1337 μg/kg on dry mass and the average contents in all of the 28 examined samples was 300 μg/kg on dry mass. Seven of the congeners were found in all samples with wide ranges of concentrations as follows: fluorene (7-48 μg/kg), anthracene (1-31 μg/kg), pyrene (1-970 μg/kg), benzo(a)anthracene (1-18 μg/kg) chrysene (17-365 μg/kg), benzo(a)pyrene (1-29 μg/kg), and indeno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene (4-119 μg/kg). The two most toxic congeners benzo(a)pyrene and dibenzo(a,h)anthracene were found at high concentrations only in Earl Grey Twinnings, Earl Grey Harney& Sons Fine Teas, and Chai Ultra Spice Black Tea Twinnings. Six PAH congeners are considered as suspected carcinogens (U.S.EPA), formed the basis of the estimation of the toxic equivalent (TEQ), Chai Ultra-Spice Black Tea Twinnings had the highest TEQ (110.9) followed by two grey tea samples, Earl Grey Harney & Sons Fine Tea (57.7) and Earl Grey Twinnings (54.5). Decaffeinated grey teas had the lowest TEQs, decaffeinated Earl Grey Bigelow (9.4) and Green Tea Honey Lemon Decaffeinated Lipton (9.6).