Abstract Title:

Relative hopane content confirming the mineral origin of hydrocarbons contaminating foods and human milk.

Abstract Source:

Food Addit Contam. 2004 Sep;21(9):893-904. PMID: 15666983

Abstract Author(s):

T Populin, M Biedermann, K Grob, S Moret, L Conte

Article Affiliation:

Official Food Control Authority of the Canton of Zürich, PO Box, CH-8030 Zurich, Switzerland.


Hopanes, triterpenoid hydrocarbons formed under geological conditions, were analysed to confirm the mineral origin of the unresolved complex mixtures of hydrocarbons observed in the gas chromatography with flame ionization detection chromatograms of human milk and certain foodstuffs. The 'relative hopane content' (RHC) is introduced, i.e. it is the area ratio of the sum of the hopanes and the paraffins in the same segment of the chromatogram. The RHC in various mineral oil products (motor oils, hydraulic oils, lubricating oils, Vaseline) was 3.4%, with a relative standard deviation of 19%. The RHC determined in samples of vegetable oils, mussels and clams as well as of human milk containing an unresolved complex mixture of hydrocarbons was in the same range, confirming that these samples were contaminated by mineral oil material.

Study Type : Human Study

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