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Rice Consumption May Expose Children to Arsenic

Mattew Davis Supported in part by research at the EPA/NIEHS Dartmouth Children's Center, a new study suggests that rice consumption can expose U.S. children to arsenic.  Arsenic exposure can cause serious effects on the neurologic, respiratory, hematologic, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and other systems;  can cause several forms of cancer and other health problems. The paper, "Rice Consumption and Urinary Arsenic Concentrations in US Children," was released online today in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Matthew Davis and his team used data from the nationally-representative National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2003 to 2008. The scientists looked at how rice consumption over the course of the day affected urinary arsenic concentration among the 2,323 children between the ages of six and seventeen. They found that children who consumed rice during that period had more than 14 percent more arsenic present in their urine than children that did not eat any rice. Other contributing sources such as seafood consumption and secondary exposure to cigarrette smoke were taken into account.

This is not the first paper using data from the Dartmouth Children’s Center about dietary arsenic and rice. A Dartmouth study released last year was noted in a recent Consumer Reports article on arsenic, in rice and rice products, showing that in a small sample of women, eating half a cup of rice a day was equivalent in terms of arsenic consumed to drinking a liter of water with the EPA recommended maximum of arsenic.  Davis also discussed how organic brown rice syrup may be a cause of arsenic exposure in another paper published in Environmental Health Perspectives earlier this year.

The Dartmouth Children’s Center is jointly funded by the U.S. EPA and the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). One of the goals of the Dartmouth Children’s Center is to better understand the combined impact of arsenic both in drinking water and food on children’s health and to support community and public awareness to minimize those health risks to reduce environmental threats to children’s health.

For more information on the research publications mentioned above:
"Rice Consumption and Urinary Arsenic Concentrations in US Children (PDF)" (31 pp, 307 K)
"Arsenic in Your Food" Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer
"Food Products Containing Organic Brown Rice Syrup may be an Unsuspected Source of Dietary Arsenic
"Arsenic, organic foods, and brown rice syrup"

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