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1
Arsenic and Rice
Sajad Alsadah
Chem 485
2
ARSENIC AND RICE
Introduction
Rice is a type of grass. It is usually grown in a swampy area. Rice is a type of
food and it is very common in Asia. Arsenic is a chemical element. It is present in many
minerals. The paper below focusses on arsenic in rice, the effects of arsenic in rice, the
maximum tolerable level of arsenic and the recommendation of arsenic in rice. Studies have
shown that rice has higher amounts of arsenic than in any other food. There are two types of
arsenic which include organic arsenic and inorganic arsenic. Organic arsenic is found in animal
tissues while inorganic arsenic is found in air, water or in rocks and soil. Inorganic is more toxic
than organic arsenic. Inorganic arsenic is solid. It is impossible to remove all the arsenic as it
naturally occurs in the air, sand and even in water. Research shows that about thirty three percent
of arsenic comes from natural sources. This includes the volcanoes while the rest of the arsenic
comes from manmade sources
Arsenic compounds
Arsenic is a chemical element. It is a group fifteen element and is found in period four of
the periodic table. Arsenic is present in many minerals. They are usually combined with sulfur
and many other metals. They exist also in pure form which is crystalline in nature. Arsenic has
allotropes. Most of the arsenic compounds do not have many uses but the gray form which has a
metallic appearance is important. At standard temperature and pressure, the element is usually
very solid. The element was discovered three hundred years before Christ error. One of the most
common uses of the element is in alloys mostly in lead. It is used a dopant in the electronic
devices. Apart from being used in alloys, it has other applications which include, agriculture,
medicine use and even in the military.
ARSENIC AND RICE
Arsenic is a naturally occurring element that is be found in air, water and on the soil.
Although it is naturally occurring research shows that it is as a result of human activities. Mining
is the most common activity that leads to the rise of arsenic. Use of pesticide also leads to this.
Inorganic arsenic is harmful to one’s health. It is usually found in rice. Research shows that it
finds its way into rice as it absorbed when rice grows. The area of cultivation plays a big role in
determining the level of arsenic in rice. Research shows that rice absorbs the most arsenic among
all the other eaten foods. Brown rice as compared to white rice has a higher level of arsenic. The
reason behind this is that brown rice contains bran. Arsenic is found in bran. In white rice,
however, bran is usually removed and hence low level of arsenic. Nutritionally however, brown
rice is considered to be better (Hojsak et al., 2015).
The findings of this study are consistent with those of Signes et al., (2016) where effects
of arsenic is highlighted. The biggest issue of arsenic is the health issue. There are many health
risks to those who consume rice on a regular basis especially to those who rely on it as their
staple food. Arsenic in high doses is very toxic. This is because it causes harmful symptoms and
even sometimes causes death. Little arsenic that is found in the diet is generally low and
therefore does not really cause poisoning or any immediate symptoms. Arsenic, when taken in
the long term, causes health problems and an increased risk of chronic diseases. The chronic
diseases include cancer, blockage of blood vessels eventually leading to high blood pressure,
heart disease and type two diabetes. This finding also explains why so many people suffer from
lung and stomach cancer. Arsenic is also associated with impaired concentration and reduced
intelligence in teenagers. On pregnant women, high intake of rice with a high level of arsenic has
an adverse effect on the fetus. This has led to increased defects during birth. Research has shown
that toxic symptoms of arsenic take a long period of time to develop (Signes-Pastor et al.,2016).
3
ARSENIC AND RICE
Changes in the arsenic level are inevitable. However, there is usually a maximum
tolerable level that can be accepted. Regulators, however, are trying to reduce the level of arsenic
that is found in rice. The main aim of this move is to reduce the number of harmful health effects
that it has on people. The European Union regulation did their own research and published limits
on rice and derived products for inorganic arsenic. Milled rice should be 0.2 mg/ kg. Steamed
and husked rice should be 0.25 mg/kg. Rice cakes together with puffed rice paper should be 0.3
mg/kg. Rice that is produced for infants and young children should be 0.1 mg/ kg. This was set
three years ago. Arsenic is affecting more than one hundred and fifty million people worldwide.
This provides a fascinating insight to the tolerable levels of arsenic in rice.
Regulation bodies should be more aware of the arsenic levels in rice. The best way to
reduce arsenic is during the planting period. Attempts to reduce arsenic should be done during
the plantation time. Arsenic is usually absorbed during this time. Rice should be planted in
aerobic conditions. This will help reduce arsenic levels. Cooking rice with large amounts of
water also reduces the arsenic in the rice. This reduces by forty-five percent (Deng et., 2018).
There is a high chance for one to consume arsenic when eating rice. However, there are options
that one can have to avoid consuming large amounts of arsenic. One alternative is farmers should
consider alternative crops. Given that rice has the most intakes of arsenic, farmers should try to
adopt other crops that have low arsenic. Another option is to take organic rice. Consuming
organic rice will mean that you are consuming rice that contains a few pesticides. Although
brown rice is generally healthier than white rice, it is important to eat white rice which has less
arsenic. Brown rice has eighty percent more arsenic than white rice (Ranjam, Talat, Hasan 2009).
Farming methods go a long way in determining the amount of arsenic in the rice.
Incorporating rice husks to the soil decreases the arsenic levels by up to fifty percent. This is also
4
ARSENIC AND RICE
a positive because the yields will remain the same (Price et., 2013). The major factor for
inorganic arsenic is the anaerobic cultivation. An alternative source which is the wetting and
drying reduces the arsenic levels by varying the amount of water (Diaz et., 2017).
Testing for arsenic levels in rice is important. Research shows that using an analytical
way is the safest and sure way of ensuring the levels of arsenic is below the accepted levels
(Hojsak et al., 2015). Previous methods have often brought errors and jeopardized the lives of
people. The new method has been approved worldwide by scientists. To test for arsenic in rice
you will need a test safe detector kit a timer, distilled water, and rice sample. The first step is to
mix the distilled water and rice. In the detector kit, there is a solution to put a drop on the cover
of the vile. Put the rice solution in the vile and cover it with the cover of the vile. Let the solution
settle for thirty minutes. After thirty minutes the cover of the vile is dark meaning that there is
high arsenic content in the rice. If the cover of the vile is white this shows that the level of
arsenic is low (Deng et., 2018).
In conclusion, the result of this study show fascinating insights into the cognitive
understanding of arsenic and how it specifically affects rice. Contrary to what we had predicted,
I found out that inorganic arsenic has much worse effects that organic. Research also showed that
it is unavoidable to remove all the arsenic in rice. However there were methods in which arsenic
could be reduced. Given how harmful it is, discoveries show that it is mostly present in rice and
therefore can be avoided if one chooses to eat other food. The effects of arsenic on the body take
a long time to manifest and research has shown that eating white rice could give a person a
higher chance of living a healthy life. Understanding the maximum accepted level of arsenic in
rice will help everyone pick the right type of rice to consume. This research and other research
5
ARSENIC AND RICE
that will follow will contribute to the solving of arsenic in rice. The research above shows that
we have a long way to go in solving the problems of arsenic in rice.
6
7
ARSENIC AND RICE
References
Substance Priority List | ATSDR. (2018, November 13). Retrieved from
https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/spl/
Deng, F., Yamaji, N., Ma, J. F., Lee, S., Jeon, J., Martinoia, E., … Song, W. (2018).
Engineering rice with lower grain arsenic. Plant Biotechnology Journal, 16(10),
1691-1699. doi:10.1111/pbi.12905
Díaz-Gómez, J., Twyman, R. M., Zhu, C., Farré, G., Serrano, J. C., Portero-Otin, M., …
Christou, P. (2017). Biofortification of crops with nutrients: factors affecting
utilization and storage. Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 44, 115-123.
doi:10.1016/j.copbio.2016.12.002
Hojsak, I., Braegger, C., Bronsky, J., Campoy, C., Colomb, V., Decsi, T., … Van
Goudoever, J. (2015). Arsenic in Rice. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and
Nutrition, 60(1), 142-145. doi:10.1097/mpg.0000000000000502
Price, A. H., Norton, G. J., Salt, D. E., Ebenhoeh, O., Meharg, A. A., Meharg, C., …
Davies, W. J. (2013). Alternate wetting and drying irrigation for rice in Bangladesh:
Is it sustainable and has plant breeding something to offer? Food and Energy
Security, 2(2), 120-129. doi:10.1002/fes3.29
Ranjan, D., Talat, M., & Hasan, S. H. (2009). Rice Polish: An Alternative to Conventional
Adsorbents for Treating Arsenic Bearing Water by Up-Flow Column Method.
Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 48(23), 10180-10185.
doi:10.1021/ie900877p
ARSENIC AND RICE
Signes-Pastor, A. J., Carey, M., & Meharg, A. A. (2016). Inorganic arsenic in rice-based
products for infants and young children. Food Chemistry, 191, 128-134.
doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.11.078
8

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