The concentration of 11 metals was measured in 253 foods from WA supermarkets which was then used to calculate the average dietary metals intake for children.
Lead researcher Dr Anna Callan said the amount of cadmium, nickel and manganese that children were estimated to ingest in food was higher than expected.
“There is emerging research that even low concentrations of certain metals can have negative health effects,” she said.
“Our modelling shows that the average cadmium intake by Perth children aged eight is 60 per cent of the amount recommended by the World Health Organisation and exceeds the European Food Safety Authority guideline.
“Even at low concentrations, cadmium has been associated with health effects such as a reduction in bone density in adults.”
“The measured metals concentrations in individual foods in Western Australia were generally low,” she said.
“But when combined in a modelled dietary intake the results showed an elevated intake of some metals, particularly for younger children.”
Dr Callan said more research was needed to determine the potential health effects of dietary exposure to metals in children.
“Metals are found naturally in the soil, but some metals are also increasing in the environment as a result of agricultural practices, industry and urbanisation.”
Dr Callan’s advice for concerned parents was to make sure their children were eating a wide variety of food.
“A healthy balanced and varied diet is important for everyone and especially children. Eating a variety of foods will help to minimise the risks of metals exposure.”
Metals in commonly eaten groceries in Western Australia – a market basket survey and dietary assessment was recently published in the journal Food Additives & Contaminants.