Traces of arsenic in 360 German beers: the fault of filtration

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Carlos Laforet Coll
@carloslaforetcoll

Beer lovers, beware: German researchers found traces of arsenic in hundreds of beer samples tested. All the fault of diatomaceous earth filtration, a polluted water purification technique that consists of passing wastewater through a filter consisting of a layer of earth of siliceous fossilized skeletons of microscopic marine organisms. But sedimentary rock contains iron, metals and arsenic.



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Beer lovers, beware! German researchers have found traces of arsenic in hundreds of samples of beer tested. All the fault of diatomaceous earth filtration, a polluted water purification technique that consists of passing wastewater through a filter consisting of a layer of earth of siliceous fossilized skeletons of microscopic marine organisms. Too bad that the sedimentary rock contains iron, metals and arsenic.

For this reason, in the samples analyzed by the experts of the TUM (Technische Universitat Munchen) in a study presented at the 245th meeting of theAmerican Chemical Society, levels of arsenic have been found to be up to two times higher than the amount allowed in drinking water. Yet Germany has the highest international standards for beer, regulated by a strict law dating back to the 16th century. In fact, the standard provides for a careful evaluation of the unique ingredients of beer: water, hops and malt.

It is these 3 ingredients that chemists have carefully evaluated, finding high concentrations of arsenic present in diatomaceous earth in 360 beers. “We have come to the conclusion that diatomaceous earth is a significant source of arsenic contamination of beer. However the resulting levels are only mildly elevated and anyone who drinks beers brewed with this widespread technique is unlikely to get sick ", has explained Mehmet Coelhan, author della ricerca.

For the scientist, however, the risk of alcohol poisoning would be much more realistic than arsenic. Also because the method under accusation is widely used not only in beer filtration, but also in that of wine and other products. The fact remains that those who use diatomaceous earth must be aware that the substance can release such dangerous substances (see case of water). And also who drinks beer treated in this way.



Roberta Ragni

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