Ochratoxin A in adult population of Lleida, Spain: presence in blood plasma and consumption in different regions and seasons
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Ochratoxin A (OTA) levels in blood plasma, as well as the consumption of possibly contaminated foodstuffs by adult inhabitants, were determined in three seasons in the plain and the mountain regions of the province of Lleida (Spain). Daily intake of the toxin was estimated in order to evaluate the exposure of the studied population. OTA was extracted from plasma through liquid–liquid extraction followed by immunoaffinity chromatography columns clean-up. Detection was done through HPLC-fluorescence, and limit of detection was 0.018 ng/mL. Consumption data of the participants were obtained by means of a food frequency questionnaire. Occurrence of OTA in plasma was 100%. Range was 0.06–10.92 ng/mL, and median was 0.50 ng/mL. Differences between genders, regions or seasons were not significant, whereas significant differences were found among age groups. Regarding food consumption, significant differences were found between genders, but not between age groups, regions, or seasons. OTA plasma levels were not correlated with food consumption. Distributions of the intake estimations based on plasma levels differed from those based on food consumption and contamination. Mean and median values of the daily intake estimations were below the latest provisional tolerable daily intake of 14 ng/kg bw/day, but some high percentiles were above it.