The consumption of contaminated natural pastures with highly dangerous and toxic heavy metals such as cad-mium (Cd) and lead (Pb) by Andean camelids could cause harmful effects on the health of people exposed via consumption of contaminated alpaca meat. The concentration of Cd, Pb and Zn in the soil-plant-alpaca system was determined and the potential health risk associated with the intake of alpaca meat was evaluated. Soil and grass samples were collected in grazing areas of the South American camelid, and in the Municipal Slaughterhouse of Huancavelica, 30 samples of alpaca pectoral muscle were collected. The concentrations of Cd in the soil, grass and alpaca muscle exceeded the threshold values of national and international standards. The bioaccumulation factor values of the three elements studied was less than 1, Cd was the element with the highest bioavailability and mo-bility in the soil-plant-alpaca muscle system. The mean concentration of Cd in muscle was 0.335 ± 0.088 mg/kg which exceeded the maximum level allowed by the FAO/WHO and the European Commission, the concentration of Pb and Zn did not exceed the regulated limits. No significant differences were detected in accumulation accord-ing to sex. The non-carcinogenic hazard index (HI) values for the studied metals indicated that there is no adverse health risk (HI <1) for children and adults from alpaca meat intake, but they could experience carcinogenic risk from prolonged exposure to Cd, and for exceeding the 1 × 10 4 limit threshold. It is recommended to conduct further studies on the accumulation of potentially toxic elements in alpaca tissues in order to determine the possible total risk of heavy metals in consumer’s health.
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- alpaca meat
- bioaccumulation factor
- carcinogenic risk
- heavy metals
- non-carcinogenic risk