Climate change and the health impact of aflatoxins exposure in Portugal - an overview

Ricardo Assunção, Carla Martins, Susana Viegas, Carla Viegas, Lea S Jakobsen, Sara Pires, Paula Alvito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Climate change has been indicated as a driver for food safety issues worldwide, mainly due to the impact on the occurrence of food safety hazards at various stages of food chain. Mycotoxins, natural contaminants produced by fungi, are among the most important of such hazards. Aflatoxins, which have the highest acute and chronic toxicity of all mycotoxins, assume particular importance. A recent study predicted aflatoxin contamination in maize and wheat crops in Europe within the next 100 years and aflatoxin B1 is predicted to become a food safety issue in Europe, especially in the most probable scenario of climate change (+2°C). This review discusses the potential influence of climate change on the health risk associated to aflatoxins dietary exposure of Portuguese population. We estimated the burden of disease associated to the current aflatoxin exposure for Portuguese population in terms of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs). It is expected that in the future the number of DALYs and the associated cases of hepatocellular carcinoma due to aflatoxins exposure will increase due to climate change. The topics highlighted through this review, including the potential impact on health of the Portuguese population through the dietary exposure to aflatoxins, should represent an alert for the potential consequences of an incompletely explored perspective of climate change. Politics and decision-makers should be involved and committed to implement effective measures to deal with climate change issues and to reduce its possible consequences. This review constitutes a contribution for the prioritisation of strategies to face the unequal burden of effects of weather-related hazards in Portugal and across Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalFood additives & contaminants. Part A, Chemistry, analysis, control, exposure & risk assessment
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Mar 2018


  • Journal Article


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