A human health risk assessment of lead (Pb) ingestion among adult wine consumers

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Background: Recent concerns have been raised regarding heavy metal content in wine and its potential health implications. The goal of this study was to determine if lead (Pb) intake poses a health risk among adult consumers of wine. This was achieved by performing a literature review of studies reporting Pb concentration in United States and international wines, determining adult wine consumption rates in the United States using NHANES dietary survey data, utilizing the U.S. EPA’s Adult Lead Methodology (ALM) model to estimate adult blood lead levels (BLLs) from wine consumption under various exposure scenarios, and comparing modeled BLLs to guidance values. Models were stratified by average exposure (mean wine Pb concentration) and high exposure (95th percentile wine Pb concentration) scenarios. Results: Lead concentration data was abstracted from a total of 31 studies, including wine from 18 countries for a total of 472 wine samples. The mean Pb content of international red and white wines were 33.9 μg/L (n = 282) and 35.7 μg/L (n = 118), respectively, while the mean Pb content of domestic red wine was 4.4 μg/L (n = 61). All modelled BLLs were below the Center for Disease Control (CDC) BLL guidance value of 5 μg/dL. Assuming a mean baseline BLL, an individual was required to drink 10.4 glasses of wine per day (all wine types) under the average exposure scenario and 3.7 glasses of wine per day (all wine types) under the high exposure scenario in order to elevate their BLL to the guidance value of 5 μg/dL. When stratified by region, a minimum of approximately 24 glasses of wine from the United States per day was required to raise adult BLLs to the 5 μg/dL guidance value. Conclusions: Overall, findings suggest that Pb content in wine does not pose a health risk to adult wine consumers.

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Towle, K. M., Garnick, L. C., & Monnot, A. D. (2017). A human health risk assessment of lead (Pb) ingestion among adult wine consumers. International Journal of Food Contamination, 4(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40550-017-0052-z

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