While many people consider arsenic as some type of poison, it is simply a metallic element mentioned in the periodic table and is much more common than people may think it is. In fact, this element is crucial for various biological activities that include organisms and humans, although it is not yet stated that it is essential nutrient for the body. Arsenic is present in water, rocks and soil, and when in small quantity it results in no danger.
Is Arsenic Safe?
When said that arsenic is safe, many people find it indefinite. However, it is not crazy since there are two types of arsenic. Organic arsenic is commonly present in water and soil, and there is very little proof that it is harmful in small quantity. On the other hand, inorganic arsenic may lead to serious problems.
So How Is Organic Arsenic Different From Inorganic Arsenic?
When arsenic combines with other different elements such as sulfur, chlorine or oxygen, it results in the formation of inorganic arsenic. Some toxic compounds and artificial pesticides are rich with inorganic arsenic. Once, the cotton farmers controlled boll weevils pests by using arsenic-based pesticides on cotton fields. Most of those fields are used for growing rice as it is rich with inorganic arsenic.
Arsenic Poisoning Caused By Rice
Not only rice, but other similar foods such as brown rice syrup are also said to have a high quantity of inorganic arsenic. People who mainly feed on rice and people who avoid wheat to keep up with their gluten-free diet are the ones dangerously exposed to arsenic levels. When Bangladeshi rice samples were tested, they showed around 80% inorganic arsenic and Bangladeshi people eat around 450g of rice on a daily basis. Bangladesh stood on the first position for arsenic poisoning.
Inorganic Arsenic Dangers
While inorganic arsenic is not considered a major issue and there are no specified limits for inorganic or organic arsenic to be used in foods, there is a daily limit of 10 ppb set by EPA on drinking water. On the contrary, if significant inorganic arsenic is intake, it could result in serious health problems. Inorganic arsenic is also called a called carcinogen (cancer causing agent). Problems with skin, lungs, liver, kidneys and gastrointestinal tract are also associated with inorganic arsenic.
The content of arsenic in apple juice grabbed great media attention after high levels of this element was identified in apple juice samples. Many researchers including FDA countered that the high levels of arsenic represents both inorganic and organic arsenic. Although arsenic is a part of food, inorganic arsenic is a problem while organic is not.
As far as rice is concerned, then basmati rice from Pakistan and India and Thailand’s jasmine rice has the least content of this element.