As in other agricultural products, lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic are potential contaminants in algal products since they are components of industrial pollution and occur in trace amounts in certain agricultural fertilizers. It is known that certain microalgae are effective accumulators of heavy metals.37 The production of high-quality Spirulina therefore requires the use of high-grade nutrients and a meticulous and routine analysis of heavy metals in the culture medium and the product. This is particularly important in situations where food-grade Spirulina is to be produced from earthen ponds or natural lakes. The soil in certain regions may have a high content of heavy metals that can easily be accumulated by the algae.
Table 1.4 shows some examples of regulatory standards for heavy metals in dietary supplements and foods.
It is important to clear a controversy that has been created by reports of questionably high mercury levels in commercial Spirulina products in two papers published
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