Arsenic in Foods -Consumer Report INVESTIGATION

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“The U.S. is the world’s leading user of arsenic, and since 1910 about 1.6 million tons have been used for agricultural and industrial purposes, about half of it only since the mid-1960s. Residues from the decades of use of lead-arsenate insecticides linger in agricultural soil today, even though their use was banned in the 1980s. Other arsenical ingredients in animal feed to prevent disease and promote growth are still permitted. Moreover, fertilizer made from poultry waste can contaminate crops with inorganic arsenic.”

“Inorganic arsenic, the predominant form of arsenic in most of the 65 rice products we analyzed, is ranked by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as one of more than 100 substances that are Group 1 carcinogens. It is known to cause bladder, lung, and skin cancer in humans, with the liver, kidney, and prostate now considered potential targets of arsenic-induced cancers.”

“Two forms of organic arsenic, called DMA and MMA”

“We found DMA in the 32 rices we tested, which include choices from the south central states and elsewhere, including California, India, and Thailand.”

“Rice absorbs arsenic from soil or water much more effectively than most plants. That’s in part because it is one of the only major crops grown in water-flooded conditions, which allow arsenic to be more easily taken up by its roots and stored in the grains.”

“High levels of arsenic in soil can actually reduce rice yields. Meharg, a leading researcher in the field, notes the Department of Agriculture has invested in research to breed types of rice that can withstand arsenic. That may help explain the relatively high levels of arsenic..”

“..tested both a white and a brown rice, the average total and inorganic arsenic levels were higher in the brown rice than in the white rice of the same brand in all cases.”

“Though brown rice has nutritional advantages over white rice, it is not surprising that it might have higher levels of arsenic, which concentrates in the outer layers of a grain. The process of polishing rice to produce white rice removes those surface layers, slightly reducing the total arsenic and inorganic arsenic in the grain.

In brown rice, only the hull is removed. Arsenic concentrations found in the bran that is removed during the milling process to produce white rice can be 10 to 20 times higher than levels found in bulk rice grain.”

“Though rice isn’t the only dietary source of arsenic—some vegetables, fruits, and even water can harbor it—the Environmental Protection Agency assumes there is actually no “safe” level of exposure to inorganic arsenic.”

“Study participants who reported drinking apple or grape juice had total urinary arsenic levels that were on average nearly 20 percent higher than those who didn’t.”

“A urine test is the best measure of recent arsenic exposure because most of it is excreted in urine within a few days after ingestion.”

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Arsenic in Your Food | Consumer Reports Investigation.


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