Arsenic Consumption in the United States
Exposure limits for arsenic in drinking water and minimal risk levels (MRLs) for total dietary exposure to arsenic have long been established in the U.S. Multiple studies conducted over the last five years have detected arsenic in foods and beverages including juice, rice, milk, broth (beef and chicken), and others. Understanding whether or not each of these foods or drinks is a concern to certain groups of individuals requires examining which types of and how much arsenic is ingested. In this article, recent studies are reviewed and placed in the context of consumption patterns. When single sources of food or drink are considered in isolation, heavy rice eaters can be exposed to the most arsenic among adults while infants consuming formula containing contaminated organic brown rice syrup are the most exposed group among children. Most food and drink do not contain sufficient arsenic to exceed MRLs. For individuals consuming more than one source of contaminated water or food, however, adverse health effects are more likely. In total, recent studies on arsenic contamination in food and beverages emphasize the need for individual consumers to understand and manage their total dietary exposure to arsenic.
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