Potential exposure to metals and health risks of metal intake from Tieguanyin tea production in Anxi, China

  • Jingwei Sun
  • Gongren Hu
  • Kangkang Liu
  • Ruilian Yu
  • Qiuyan Lu
  • Yunfeng Zhang
Original Paper


The metal content of Tieguanyin tea from Anxi, Southeast China, was studied. Leaching experiments were designed based on the local tea-drinking habits, and tea infusions were prepared using three types of water and two methods of soaking tea. Twelve metals (Cd, As, Cr, Pb, Se, Sb, Ag, Tl, Cu, Zn, Be, and Ba) were measured by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), and a human health risk assessment was performed. The results showed that the quality of water used for steeping tea has a direct effect on the leaching concentrations of metals in the tea infusion and this effect can be reduced by using pure water or commercially available drinking water. Further, the two tea-soaking methods used by local residents can reduce the metal intake. The health risk assessment determined that the carcinogenic risk values of Cr, As, and Pb (Cr > Pb > As) were within an acceptable range (10−7–10−4); therefore, the concentrations of these metals in tea infusions do not pose substantial carcinogenic risk to tea drinkers. The results also indicate that the high concentrations of Tl in the tea infusions pose a substantial noncarcinogenic risk and may result from the dissolution characteristics of Tl and the water quality.


Tieguanyin tea Metals Thallium Human health risk assessment 



This work was supported by the National Science Foundation of China (21777049, 41807410), the Natural Science Foundation of Fujian Province (2016J01065), the State Key Laboratory of Environmental Geochemistry (SKLEG2016901), the Fujian Provincial Key Laboratory of Ecology-Toxicological Effects & Control for Emerging Contaminants (PY17003), Science and technology project of Quanzhou (2018Z020), the Key Laboratory of Marine Biogenetic Resources (HY201806), and the National Undergraduate Innovation and Entrepreneurship Training Program (201810399009). The authors express heartfelt thanks to the colleagues who participated in the sampling work. Thanks to anonymous reviewers and their constructive comments. We would like to thank Editage ( for English language editing and publication support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Chemical EngineeringHuaqiao UniversityXiamenChina
  2. 2.School of Resources and Environmental ScienceQuanzhou Normal UniversityQuanzhouChina
  3. 3.Fujian Provincial Key Laboratory of Ecology-Toxicological Effects & Control for Emerging ContaminantsPutianChina
  4. 4.Fujian Center for Disease Control & PreventionFuzhouChina
  5. 5.Key Laboratory of Marine Biogenetic ResourcesThe Third Institute of Oceanography, State of Oceanic AdministrationXiamenChina

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