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University of Latvia

Faculty of Geography and Earth Sciences

Department of Environmental Science

Zane Vincēviča-Gaile




Summary of doctoral thesis

Submitted for the degree of Doctor of Chemistry, Environmental Science

Subfield of Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology Rīga, 2014 1 The research for doctoral thesis was carried out at the Department of Environmental Science, Faculty of Geography and Earth Sciences, University of Latvia, from 2009 to 2013, and it has been supported by the European Social Fund within the project “Support for Doctoral Studies at University of Latvia”, No. 2009/0138/ 1DP/ 09/IPIA/ VIAA/004.

Eiropas Sociālā fonda projekts „Atbalsts doktora studijām Latvijas Universitātē ” Nr.2009/0138/ 1DP/ 09/IPIA/ VIAA/004.

The thesis contains the introduction, 3 chapters, conclusions, reference list, 4 appendices.

Form of the thesis: dissertation in chemistry, field of environmental science, subfield of environmental chemistry and ecotoxicology.

Supervisor: professor, Dr. habil. chem. Māris Kļaviņš


1) professor, Dr. habil. chem. Andris Zicmanis, University of Latvia, Latvia;

2) professor, Dr. Stanley Lutts, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium;

3) Dr. chem. Vadims Bartkevičs, Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment BIOR, Latvia.

The thesis will be defended at the public session of the Doctoral Committee of Environmental Science, University of Latvia, at the Faculty of Geography and Earth Sciences of the University of Latvia (Alberta Street 10, Riga, Latvia) on April 24, 2014 at 10:00.

The thesis is available at the Library of the University of Latvia (Raiņa blvd. 19, Riga, Latvia).

The thesis was accepted for the commencement of the degree of Doctor of Chemistry, Environmental Science on January 16, 2014 by the Doctoral Committee of Environmental Science, University of Latvia.

Chairman of the Doctoral Committee:

prof., Dr. biol. Viesturs Melecis

Secretary of the Doctoral Committee:

assoc. prof., Dr. biol. Gunta Spriņģe © University of Latvia, 2014 © Zane Vincēviča-Gaile, 2014 2 Contents Annotation

General overview of the work

1. Literature review

1.1. Characteristics and transfer of micro- and macroelements in food

1.2. Bioavailability of elements in food chain

1.3. Recent studies of micro- and macroelement analysis in Latvia

2. Materials and methods

2.1. Food sampling, sample preparation and pretreatment

2.1.1. Collection of food samples

2.1.2. Pretreatment of food samples prior quantitative analysis

2.1.3. Methods of quantitative analysis

2.2. Experimental setup of element transfer study

2.2.1. Preparation of soil samples

2.2.2. Element speciation analysis

3. Results and discussion

3.1. Impact of conditions influencing element concentration in analysed food samples

3.1.1. Impact of seasonality on element concentration in food

3.1.2. Impact of botanical origin on element concentration in food

3.1.3. Impact of agricultural practice on concentration of elements in food

3.2. Assessment of element bioavailability

3.2.1. Characteristics of soil samples

3.2.2. Accumulation of elements in experimentally grown vegetables

3.2.3. Element bioavailability in food chain segment “soil-plant”

3.2.4. Element bioavailability in food chain segment “plant-human” after the case study with lettuce



3 Annotation

Besides the transfer of essential micro- and macroelements from environment to food, contamination of food chain with toxic and potentially toxic elements, e.g., As, Cr, Cd, Hg, Pb may occur. The aim of the doctoral research “Impact of environmental conditions on micro- and macroelement content in selected food from Latvia” included quantitative investigation of food samples collected in Latvia to discover factors influencing the concentration and possible transfer routes of elements in food. In addition, element bioavailability in food chain was studied by experimental food crop growth in contaminated soil. Obtained results revealed influence of several factors, e.g., seasonality, botanical origin, site-specific factors, applied agricultural practice, food processing on the concentration of elements in food.

Key words: micro- and macroelements, quantitative analysis, element transfer, food composition, environment, Latvia.

–  –  –

Introduction Food and drinking water are the main sources of nutrient element supply for human body. Apart from basic substances of nutrition as proteins, carbohydrates and lipids, human body requires fibres, vitamins, amino acids, enzymes and range of essential chemical elements. Macroelements such as Ca, K, Mg, Na and microelements (e.g., Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Se, V, Zn) are essential compounds which affect vital functioning of human body – development, growth, reproduction. Although, the information of the chemical and nutritional content of majority of foodstuffs is established and aggregated in series of handbooks about nutrition and healthy diet, e.g., Burgerstein’s handbook of nutrition (Zimmermann, 2001), Handbook of nutrition and food (Berdanier et al., 2007), Uztura mācība (Nutrition studies) written by Latvian dieticians (Zariņš un Neimane, 2009), and several databases constituted by agricultural and food research institutions (e.g., USDA, s.a.), micro- and macroelement content in food regionally is very variable (e.g., Aberoumand and Deokule, 2010; Ekholm et al., 2007; Ferre-Huguet et al., 2008; Hashmi et al., 2007). Specific or natural environmental conditions with interconnection of anthropogenic influences may affect element content in food. For example, element content in soil can influence composition of vegetation that is consumed by animals or is used as human food, thus resulting in the specific element transfer into food chain which may affect human health, longevity and life quality in general (Combs, 2005; Fraga, 2005; Nabrzyski, 2007). Food contamination with toxic and potentially toxic elements (e.g., As, Cr, Cd, Hg, Pb) may occur resulting in reduced quality of daily nutrition and adverse health effects. Therefore, the assessment of the content and concentration of micro- and macroelements in connection with estimation of environmental and anthropogenic impacts are the issues of a high importance. Information of tendencies in the content of elements in food also can be used as an indicator of regional environmental element background (Fernandez-Torres et al., 2005; Fodor and Molnar, 1993; Pisani et al., 2008).

Quantitative data of micro- and macroelement concentration is an indispensable tool for risk assessment analysis that can be associated with occasional intakes of elements in too high levels and may lead to the toxic adverse effects in human body or, contrary, can be connected with possible insufficiency of element intake that may determine deficiency of certain elements in human body (Goldhaber, 2003). Thus, interdisciplinary studies of micro- and macroelement concentration in foodstuffs are of importance for many branches of science including environmental science, chemistry, food and nutrition science, and health sciences.

And the aim of such studies is not only to investigate impacts of environmental pollution, but also to identify element inputs from environment to food due to the natural environmental conditions as well as to discover the element transfer routes and accumulation processes. The research of micro- and macroelement concentration in food within the interconnection of impact of environmental conditions is of great importance from the public healthcare perspective as support to regional or site-specific food production, especially considering growing role of biological farming and domestic farming as well as for further development of food quality control system.

Aim of the work The aim of the work was to study concentration of micro- and macroelements in selected foodstuffs collected over the territory of Latvia to characterize the impact of environmental conditions influencing element content, concentration and transfer in food, and to study the provisional bioavailability of elements in food chain soil-plant-human.

5 Tasks of the work Application and development of methodology for foodstuff sampling, pretreatment and quantitative analysis of element concentration considering quality assurance requirements.

Collection of food samples in Latvia and subsequent quantitative analysis of element concentration, data statistical analysis, assessment of the impact of environmental conditions influencing element content in foodstuffs in respect to, e.g., environmental pollution, impact of natural and anthropogenic conditions.

Study of the routes of micro- and macroelement movement within the food chain soil-plant-human and assessment of provisional bioavailability of elements in food chain segments soil-plant and plant-human.

Provisional risk and benefit assessment of element contribution in human nutrition as well as comparison of micro- and macroelement concentration in food in Latvia with corresponding data from other countries.

The main focus of the work was the implementation of screening analysis of selected food in Latvia to discover the tendencies of micro- and macroelement concentration within the framework of impact of environmental conditions.

Hypothesis Quantitative analysis of micro- and macroelements in food samples in Latvia is one of the indicators of food quality, safety and nutritional value that can be affected by natural and anthropogenic environmental conditions.

Proposed theses

1. Quantitative analysis of micro- and macroelements in food samples using methods of analytical chemistry – a challenge for the improvement of food analysis methodology and development of screening methods.

2. Analysis of micro- and macroelements in food is a significant indicator of food safety and quality that can be assessed estimating specific conditions of food production process.

3. Seasonality, site specific, botanical factors, impact of agricultural practice, food processing specifics – conditions that affect micro- and macroelement composition and concentration in food.

4. Investigation of bioavailability of elements in food chain segments – important aspect of pollution transfer into nutrition with food.

5. Quantitative analysis of food is a perspective research direction within the context of environmental science, chemistry and health sciences that has to be developed in larger scale.

Scientific novelty Further improvements of analytical methodologies of food and environmental sample analysis, supporting advancement of prospective in food quality monitoring principles, with the prospective implementation of quality assurance procedures.

Development of interdisciplinary approach for the investigation of natural and anthropogenic factor impacts on food composition.

Comparative evaluation of the accumulation processes of elements in foodstuffs derived in different conditions, e.g., biological farming versus conventional farming etc.

Development of micro- and macroelement analysis (fingerprint concept) as a tool for tracking food origin, identity and quality.

6 Practical importance The first comprehensive quantitative analysis of micro- and macroelement concentration in representative foodstuffs in Latvia that reveals in general beneficial (in respect to human nutrition) composition of elements in food produced in Latvia, low impacts of environmental pollution and good perspectives to identify and label food produced in Latvia as compliable to highest quality criteria. Determined tendencies of element transfer in food chain and provisional bioavailability assessment may be developed further in a favour of sustainable agriculture and gardening. Estimation of food nutritional value regarding microand macroelements, local dietary specifics, food safety and provisional consumer risk assessment in Latvia can be used for further analysis of public health and for comparison of food composition on a worldwide scale.

Approbation The results of the doctoral thesis are published in 12 scientific articles. The results of the research work have been presented in 15 reports at international conferences and in 10 reports at local conferences in Latvia.

Related to the research field the author of the thesis has supervised 4 bachelor research works and has advised the preparation of 3 master theses.

Scientific publications:

1. Vincevica-Gaile, Z., Klavins, M. (2013) Concentration of elements in food: How can it reflect impact of environmental and other influencing factors? Scientific Journal of Riga Technical University, Series: Environmental & Climate Technologies 12: 15-19.

2. Stapkevica, M., Vincevica-Gaile, Z., Klavins, M. (2013) Metal uptake from contaminated soils by some plant species – radish, lettuce, dill. Research for Rural Development 1: 43-49.

3. Vincevica-Gaile, Z., Klavins, M., Rudovica, V., Viksna, A. (2013) Research review trends of food analysis in Latvia: Major and trace element content. Environmental Geochemistry & Health 35: 693-703.

4. Vincevica-Gaile, Z., Rudovica, V., Burlakovs, J., Klavins, M., Priedite, E. (2013) Analysis of major and trace elements in food: Aspects of methodological applications.

SGEM 2013 GeoConference Proceedings on Ecology, Economics, Education and Legislation 1: 49-56.

5. Vincevica-Gaile, Z., Gaga, K., Klavins, M. (2013) Food and environment: Trace element content of hen eggs from different housing types. APCBEE Procedia 5: 221-226.

6. Vincevica-Gaile, Z., Klavins, M. (2012) Transfer of metals in food chain: An example

with copper and lettuce. Scientific Journal of Riga Technical University, Series:

Environmental & Climate Technologies 10: 21-24.

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