Refuting earlier claims that California wines allegedly contain “dangerously high” levels of arsenic, a new study has concluded that inorganic arsenic in blush, white and red California wines “does not represent a health risk for consumers.” Dennis Paustenbach, et al., “Analysis of Total Arsenic Content in California Wines and Comparison to Various Health Risk Criteria,” American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, January 2016. Using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry to characterize the arsenic content of 101 wines produced or bottled in California, the authors evidently found that blush wines contained the greatest total arsenic concentration, followed by white and then red wines.

In particular, the study tested 28 wines singled out in media reports as exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum contaminant level for arsenic in drinking water of 10 μg/L. But even though these wines contained more total arsenic than randomly selected products, “no more than 0.3% of California wines (if any) may contain arsenic concentrations greater than the 100 μg/L guideline” that is used for arsenic concentration in wine.

“Chronic daily intake of arsenic as a result of wine consumption was estimated to account for a small fraction (< 8.3%) of a typical adult’s dietary arsenic intake, indicating that wine consumption is not a significant source of total arsenic exposure,” state the authors, who will also present their findings at the Society of Toxicology 55th Annual Meeting slated for March 13-17, 2016, in New Orleans, Louisiana. “These results indicate that the presence of arsenic in wine does not represent a health risk for consumers.” Additional details about a previous study of arsenic in wine as well as a lawsuit appear in Issues 559, 562 and 581 of this Update