Table wines from several countries may be contaminated with metals at levels potentially damaging to consumers' health, a new study has claimed.

Relatively high levels of potentially hazardous metal ions are frequently found in both red and white wines originating from various countries, said the study, published yesterday (30 October) in the Chemistry Central Journal.

The study authors collected previous research on substances found in wine and then used a measure known as the Target Hazardous Quotient (THQ) to determine relative risk levels. THQ was developed by the US government's Environmental Protection Agency.

So-called "heavy metal ions" have been associated with a number of health problems, including heart disease and diabetes.

Slovakian and Hungarian wines posed the highest risk, with only wines from Italy, Argentina and Brazil shown to be relatively risk-free, the study found.

The authors, who called for levels of metal ions in wine to appear on product labels, said: "For consumption of 250ml daily, these wines give very high THQ values and may present detrimental health concerns through a lifetime based upon the metal content alone.

"Further research is warranted in this area in the interests of public health to determine the mechanisms of metal inclusion/retention during wine production."

They added that THQ was designed to "avoid the underestimation of risk".