Analysis of trace elements in Kenyan alcoholic beverages and their source raw materials
Gitu, Daniel Karanja
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One hundred and twelve (112) alcoholic beverage and twenty six (26) raw material samples were analysed for lead, cadmium, copper and aluminium by atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS). A few of these samples were analysed by differential pulse anodic stripping voltammetry (DPASV) and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS). Some samples contained trace elements above limits set by Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and World Health Organization (WHO). Concentrations of lead ranged from 0.003-0.466 mg/l, copper: 0.013-2.363 mg/l, cadmium: ND-0.05 mg/l and aluminium: 0.043-56.906 mg/l. Only one (1) sample contained copper above 2.0 mg/l. The limits set by KEBS and WHO are as follows: lead, 0.1 mg/l; copper, 2.0 mg/l; aluminium, 0.2 mg/l; cadmium, 0.005 mg/l and arsenic; 0.5 mg/l. Of great concern is the fact that aluminium was found in over half of the brews. This is a serious health threat as aluminium is associated with Alzheimer's disease. Speciation studies were carried out on samples that had high levels of cadmium, copper and lead. It was established that most of these metals are "bound", as most of the samples did not produce peaks upon analysis. However, some samples contained free lead or cadmium or both. Free metals are considered to be more dangerous than complexed ones. The results obtained by AAS and DPASV were correlated for each of the metals analysed and there was no significant difference in the concentrations obtained by both methods. Arsenic was determined by ICPMS and concentration ranges w ere 1.467-3.758 mg/l. This study has highlighted the presence of some trace elements in alcoholic beverages. The findings are useful in that they can provide a justified investment by the state in fighting the brewing of illicit alcoholic beverages.