Rice and Arsenic: What is Arsenic Poisoning?

Sep 19, 2012 11:27 PM EDT | By Juan Fernandez

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Handful of rice
Rice imports will be well-tested for arsenic before being sold to the general public. (Photo : Reuters)

In a recent report, Consumer Reports have found exceptionally high levels of arsenic in rice. The consumer magazine reported that eating rice just once a day can drive arsenic levels in the human body up 44 percent. Rice eaten twice per day can lead to a 70 percent increase of arsenic levels.

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Arsenic is a poison extremely harmful to humans, and is commonly found in herbicides and insecticides. It is nearly impossible to avoide arsenic, particularly when consuming chicken and fish. In some areas of the world, arsenic is found in the water supply. It is odorless and very difficult to detect.

According to the EPA, "arsenic has been linked to cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, kidney, nasal passages, liver, and prostate."

The arsenic levels also varied depending on where the rice was grown, with rice grown in states such as Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Texas containing higher levels than rice samples from other parts of the country. Those four states account for about 76 percent of domestic rice, ABC News reports. The study additionally suggests that rice from California or Asia contained notably lower arsenic levels.

To eliminate the risk of arsenic poisoning by consuming rice, Consumer Reports suggests rice eaters limit themselves to one serving a day, especially for babies. By rinsing and boiling rice in a 6 to 1 water ratio removes about 30 percent of its arsenic. Additionally, where it can be avoided, they suggest not giving children under the age of 5 rice drinks or ricing milk as part of their daily diet.

Related Articles:

Arsenic in Rice: FDA Lacks Standards on Carcinogens in Food

Arsenic in Brown Rice: Asians and Hispanic Affected More Than Average American

Arsenic in Rice Milk Causes Worry Among Parents of Small Children

Arsenic in Rice: Shocking Test Results Reveal High Arsenic Poisoning Risks

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