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Human exposure assessment of fluoride from tea(Camellia Sinensis L.) with specific reference to human bioaccessibility studiesThis study aims to determine the concentrations of fluoride in UK tea products and their infusions. This is related to the uptake and distribution of fluoride within tea plants Camellia sinensis (L.). Human oral bioaccessibility of fluoride from the consumption of tea infusions was estimated, using an in vitro approach. The possible health significance from fluoride exposure is discussed. Fluoride in tea products and the distribution within the tea plant was determined using a method, involving alkali fused digestion with ion chromatography and a conductivity detector for the instrumentation. For the aqueous infusions and the supernatants in the bioaccessibility experiments, ion selective electrode with a voltmeter was adopted. Mean fluoride concentrations in tea products and their infusions varied significantly (p<0.001; n=3) and were related to the type of tea product and the retail cost. The higher priced teas, such as Darjeeling, Assam and Oolong, had lower fluoride concentrations. The lower priced supermarket Economy ranged teas were significantly higher (p<0.05) in fluoride and exhibited concentrations similar to Chinese Brick tea, which is prepared using mature tea leaves. The higher quality products are prepared by selecting the finest tips of tea (buds), whereas an Economy products use coarser harvesting techniques to include mature leaves in the product. Fluoride affinity and tolerance of C. sinensis was assessed by a series of fluoride dosing experiments, ranging from 0 to 200 mg. Following fluoride dosing, a rapid uptake and accumulation occurred throughout the tea plants, resulting in partial necrosis of random leaves. Despite the necrosis, the plants tolerated the fluoride and continued to increase in height, although at a significantly slower rate (p<0.05) compared to the control plants. Accumulation of fluoride was observed to be mostly in the mature leaves followed by younger buds, then the roots. This relates to the part of the plant used to produce the tea types, with mature leaves for Economy products and the buds for the finer teas. The in vitro bioaccessibility assessment of fluoride estimated that over 91.4% of fluoride from a tea infusion is available in the human gastric compartment, with 92.1% in the gastro-intestinal compartment. The addition of milk reduced fluoride absorption in the gastric and gastro-intestinal compartments to 73.8 and 83.1%, respectively, possibly reacting to form calcium fluoride. Despite the percentage bioaccessibility, the concentration of fluoride available for absorption in the human gut was dependent upon choice of tea product. Based on an adult male, the findings suggest that consuming a litre of Economy tea can fulfil or exceed (75 to 120%) the recommended dietary reference intake (DRI) of fluoride at 4 mg a day, but only partially fulfil (25 to 40%) when consuming a more expensive Pure blend such as Assam. With regards to health, tea consumption is a source of fluoride in the diet and is highly available for absorption in the human gut. Tea alone can fulfil an adult fluoride DRI, but is dependent upon choice of tea product. Excess fluoride in the diet can lead to detrimental health effects such as fluorosis of the teeth and skeletal fluorosis and consuming economy branded tea can lead to a higher exposure.