Arsenic in Rice

Arsenic in Rice

Rice is a food staple throughout the world. We now have to worry about dangers of the mineral arsenic in it. Although organic arsenic (from carbon) in rocks and soil, water, air and plants, is natural in rice, it is the inorganic arsenic, released from agricultural and industrial by-products that is causing concern among environmentalists, chemical researchers and consumers alike.

In 2012 Consumer Reports tested 200 samples of rice and rice products from U.S. companies. Their results showed measurable levels of inorganic arsenic in just about every product category. What health effects are we exposed to by eating arsenic laced rice and rice products?

Rice is a grain like oats, wheat, millet, amaranth, etc. But, according to Deborah Blum, a Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer and the author of five books, “What is unique about rice is that it very effectively acts like a vacuum and takes in 10 times of the worst kind of arsenic from the soil which we can’t really break down.” She warns that it is a broad-spectrum poison that in high doses is quite toxic.

People might argue there is plenty of arsenic in seafood. But, the arsenic in seafood is organic, she says, “We knock it out of our body.” Chronic exposure to even low levels can be deleterious. A recent study out of India from The Indian Institute of Chemical Biology in Kolkata this past summer showed precancerous changes in people who ate rice every day, with damage seen to cells in their immune and the cardiovascular systems.

What makes these findings even more disturbing to healthnuts is evidence that the highest concentrations of arsenic were found in brown rice. Unpolished rice (brown) has greater surface area to be contaminated.