Recent studies have revealed that not only fish but also rice consumption may significantly contribute to human exposure to mercury (Hg) in Asian countries. It is therefore essential to assess dietary exposure to Hg in rice and its associated health risk. However, risk assessments of Hg in rice in non-contaminated areas are generally lacking in Asian countries. In the present study, Hg concentrations were measured in rice samples collected from markets and supermarkets in Suzhou, a typical city in Eastern China. In addition, the rice ingestion rates (IR) were assessed via a questionnaire-based survey of Suzhou residents. The data were then used to assess the risk of Hg exposure associated with rice consumption, by calculating the hazard quotient (HQ). Hg contents in rice samples were well below the national standard (20 μg/kg), ranging from 1.46 to 8.48 ng/g. They were also significantly (p
> 0.05) independent of the area of production and place of purchase (markets vs. supermarkets in the different districts). Our results indicate a low risk of Hg exposure from rice in Suzhou (HQ: 0.005–0.05), despite the generally high personal IR (0.05–0.4 kg/day). The risk of Hg associated with rice consumption for Suzhou residents was not significantly affected by the age or sex of the consumer (p
> 0.05). Overall, our results provide a study of human exposure to Hg in rice in Chinese cities not known to be contaminated with Hg. Future studies should examine Hg exposure in different areas in China and in potentially vulnerable major food types.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited