- Arsenic is a naturally occurring element and is present in many minerals and ores in the earth’s crust. It comes in inorganic and organic forms, as well as a gas (Arsine gas). Trivalent arsenic is the form that is most toxic. Arsenobetaine and Arsenocholine are arsenic compounds found in fish and crustaceans. They are thought to have minimal toxicity even though they are abundant in seafood.
- Natural Arsenic can leach into water from rocks and from volcanic sources. High levels of toxic inorganic arsenic can be found in some seaweed (Hiziki).
- Arsenic is used in many applications such as pesticides in use outside of the U.S., semiconductors (Gallium arsenide), smelting, decorative glass making, chromium-copper-arsenate treated wood, and others. Arsenic can be found in moonshine, tainted well water, and chicken feed.
- Arsenicals were used in the past to treat syphilis, trypanosomiasis ( a parasite), and various skin conditions. It is still used to treat acute promyelocytic leukemia today!
- What does arsenic do to your body? It can increase your risk of certain cancers. It also is associated with peripheral neuropathies, skin changes, liver disease, and peripheral vascular disease.
- Well water in some locales can have high levels of Arsenic in the United States. Elsewhere, such as West Bengal, India, high arsenic levels in the water supply resulted in skin changes, liver disease, and movement problems for thousands of people. The upper limit of exposure in the US to Arsenic is 10 parts per billion (ppb). Generally our water supply has 2 ppb.
- Chromate copper arsenate (CCA), ammoniacal copper arsenate (ACA), and ammoniacal copper zinc arsenate (ACZA) in treated wood has been associated with Arsenic toxicity. Decks and play areas with arsenic-containing compounds still exist in the US even though Arsenic-treated play sets were banned in 2003. There are still a lot of decks and picnic tables that have CCA in it. The wood material with Arsenic in it can rub off on your skin, increasing the cancer risk of lung and bladder-type cancers. For older wood with arsenicals in them, seal them or change them to untreated wood. Wash your hands after touching such items. Handling of Arsenic-treated wood is found in this link: http://www.epa.gov/oppad001/reregistration/cca/
- Arsenic compounds can easily be absorbed in the gut and through inhalation. The skin, when chronically exposed, can absorb arsenic as well. The major organs affected are the gastrointestinal tract, skin, bone marrow, peripheral nervous system, and kidneys. Exposure on the long term is associated with cancers of the skin, nose, lung, liver, kidney, bladder, and prostate.
- Acute toxic effects from ingestions or air exposures results in abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting starting minutes to hours after exposure. Dehydration results. Eventually nervous system changes can occur with coma and possibly cardiac arrhythmias and death.
- Many plants, especially rice, have Arsenic in them, either from fertilizer used or pesticides applied. Rice, in particular, is a higher risk food that can have arsenic in it at high levels. Arsenic frequently dissolves in the water that is used to grow rice. The rice picks up the arsenic and concentrates it. The germ of the grain has higher levels of arsenic, so Brown rice has very high levels of arsenic relative to white rice.
- Organic baby rice cereal and rice breakfasts may have high levels of inorganic , toxic arsenic.
- Organic Brown Rice Syrup, a substitute for high fructose corn syrup, has high arsenic levels in it. It is frequently added to toddler formulas, cereal bars, and high energy bars! Avoid foods with this in it.
- The link that follows is a consumer reports study for arsenic in rice products; http://www.consumerreports.org/content/dam/cro/magazine-articles/2012/November/Consumer%20Reports%20Arsenic%20in%20Food%20November%202012_1.pdf
- There is no FDA limit on how much arsenic can be in our food, and only the amount that is in the water is monitored and controlled and is set at 10 ppb.
- The following link discusses arsenic findings in baby formula: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3346801/ The bottom line is that organic brown rice syrup sweeteners (OBRS), when used in formula, give 20 TIMES the amount of arsenic tan basic rice formulas. Also, another Arsenic link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3346791/ OBRS may be a major pathway to arsenic exposure for some people! It is present in cereal and health bars in toxic, high levels.
- Apple and grape juice also have arsenic present at concentrations of up to 23 ppb. Minimize juice to a half a cup per day.
- What to do about Arsenic:
- Have your water tested for Arsenic and Lead levels, especially if you drink well water.
- Minimize apple and grape juices.
- Avoid products with OBRS.
- Follow new guidelines for older pressure treated wood, remove them if possible, but otherwise seal them every year and wash hands frequently when you touch them.
- Eat a balanced diet. Eat less rice, and consider other grains such as quinoa, amaranth, farro, oatmeal, barly, couscous, and bulgus wheat.
- Use non-rice baby formulas, such as oatmeal. Avoid powdered cereals which have 95 ppb of Arsenic in it.
- Avoid rice milk as an alternative to dairy for babies since it has elevated levels of arsenic (17-70 ppb) in it.
- When you do eat rice, wash it thoroughly and cook it in large volumes of water that get drained off.
- Eat organic poultry (including turkey) as the feed in ‘non-organic’ turkey has elevated Arsenic that gets passed to you, the consumer. The chicken dung then passes this Arsenic to the environment, for example, the Chesapeakes River.
http://www.who.int/gho/phe/chemical_safety/poisons_centres/en/ <– WHO poison centers
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18226075 < toxic Arsenic effects.
http://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2012/09/getting-arsenic-out-your-and-your-kids-diet Environmental Working Group thesis on removing Arsenic from children’s diet.
http://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2010/11/turkeys-arsenic-arsenic-out < Turkey’s with Arsenic