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The role of elemental speciation in legislation

Our understanding for the mechanisms of biological activities and biogeochemical cycling of mineral and trace element species has been substantially advanced during recent years with the help of chemical speciation analysis studies. Undoubtedtly, the most important practical application of elemental speciation is to be found in the area of toxicology. In turn, more refined toxicological knowledge should lead to better, more specific legislation of hazardous substances.

Indeed legislators are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of elemental speciation, but chances for widespread implementation remain remote, mainly because of a lack of reliable, detailed toxicological data. This very slow process of implementation of speciation information into legislation has a very important impact on the development of the methodology for speciation analysis: since the driving force created from legal requirements is missing, development is mainly driven by exploring technological possibilities rather than by market forces. The situation has changed at least gradually during recent years, since the widespread promotion of speciation analysis within the academic reserch groups have created a niche-market themselves that needs to be addressed.
International legislation concerning food safety, environment and occupational health is mostly based on total element concentrations, frequently expressed as maximum limits or guideline levels. Only a few regulations refer to molecular species. Most often, only specific contaminants "and their compounds" are mentioned, leaving a lot room for interpretation.
Anyhow, here we try to summarize the status of legislation related to elemental species as we are aware of it:
     North America

Related EVISA Resources
An alternative way to find information about speciation related ligislation is EVISA's Link Database. This database allows to specify both the element (species) of interest as well as the country, for which the legislation exists:

Link Database: Legislation related to element species
Further chapters: About Speciation

Related Publications

A.H. Petursdottir, J.J. Sloth, J. Feldmann, Introduction of Regulations for Arsenic in Feed and Food With Emphasis on Inorganic Arsenic, and Implications for Analytical Chemistry, Anal. Bioanal. Chem., 407/28 (2015) 8385-8396. DOI: 10.1007/s00216-015-9019-1
Torsten Berg, Erik H. Larsen, Speciation and legislation - Where are we today and what do we need for tomorrow ?, Fresenius J. Anal. Chem., 363/5-6 (1999) 431-434. DOI: 10.1007/s002160051217
E.H. Larsen, Torsten Berg, Trace Element Speciation and International Food Legislation - A Codex Alimentarius Position Paper on Arsenic as a Contaminant, in: L. Ebdon, L. Pitts, H. Crews, R. Cornelis, O.F.X. Donard, Ph. Quevauviller, Trace Element Speciation for Environment, Food and Health, Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, 2001, 251-260.

Rita Cornelis, Helen Crews, Olivier Donard, Les Ebdon, Les Pitts, Philippe  Quevauviller, Summary paper of the EC Network on trace element speciation for analysts,  industry and regulators - what we have and what we need, J. Environ. Monit., 3/1 (2001) 97-101. DOI:10.1039/b007160i

Torsten Berg, D. Licht, International legislation on trace elements as contaminants in food: a review, Food Addit. Contam., 19/10 (2002) 916-927. DOI: 10.1080/02652030210156359
Torsten Berg, Speciation and legislation, in: R. Cornelis, Handbook of Elemental Speciation, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, 2003, 629-634. doi: 10.1002/0470868384.ch9

Nicole Proust, Wolfgang Buscher, Michael Sperling, Speciation and the Emerging Legislation, in: Rita Cornelis, Joe Caruso, Helen Crews, Klaus Heumann, Handbook of Elemental Speciation II, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, 2005, 737-744. doi: 10.1002/0470856009.ch4

last time modified: June 14, 2023


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