Chemical contaminants

Chemical contamination of the environment, including food, is most often an unwanted side-effect of industrial development and human population growth.  

The research at the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark on environmental contaminants aims to explore the large number of potential problematic chemical compounds that could be harmful to humans, and the implications for a safe food supply.

The chemical compounds include several groups of substances. One group is the so-called persistent organic pollutants – compounds that are very resistant to degradation in nature. To this group belong organochlorine pesticides, dioxins, PCBs, brominated flame retardants and perfluorinated compounds.

Another group is many metals for example arsenic, mercury, cadmium, lead and tin and their chemical speciation e.g. inorganic arsenic, methylmercury and organotin compounds.

Risk assessments of the human exposure to environmental contaminants in food are estimated by National Food Institute on the basis of food intake calculations coupled with data for the occurrence of environmental contaminants in various foodstuffs. The sources of the contaminants are assessed, and for selected contaminants, possible mitigation prospects are investigated. 

An important part of the work is the development of analytical methodologies for appropriate compounds. The laboratory at the National Food Institute is equipped with up-to-date instrumentation for the analysis of chemical contaminants.


Danish Veterinary and Food Administration
Danish Environmental Protection Agency
Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
NIFES - National Institute for Nutrition and Seafood Research, Norway
RIKILT – Institute of Food Safety, The Netherlands 
JRC-IRMM - Institute of Reference Materials and Measurements, Belgium