Thursday, November 28, 2019
Trace of Arsenic Essays - Natural Environment, Food And Drink, Water
Trace of Arsenic Rice is a dietary staple, especially those of certain cultures. A variety of baby foods and formulas contain arsenic, which can be harm young children because of their underdeveloped brains and bodies. High-end organic formulas and baby foods contain high levels of arsenic. Developed humans are also affected. Levels of arsenic in rice have been linked to the genetic damage in humans and can increase the risk of cancer. Arsenic mixes into organic or inorganic compounds by seeping into water supplies, traveling through the wind, or spreading through industrial use. Evidence of Harm There have been multiple health outbreaks in areas including Bangladesh and Antofagasta. These outbreaks have been led to arsenic contaminated wells which people use for drinking water. Those exposed to the drinking water in Antofagasta had higher rates of bladder and lung cancer. Arsenic caused many deaths among Antofagastans age 30 and older. Arsenic is one of the most toxic substances and has caused health effects. The Rice Connection Andrew Meharg was studying the environmental effects of arsenic in Bangladesh when a student noted that rice was being irrigated with vast quantities of arsenic-contaminated water. Rice is a dietary staple. It is used for rice flour, malt, bran, pasta, noodles, breakfast cereals, cereal bars, crackers, rice cakes and more. Rice plants took up inorganic arsenic from water and soil with dismaying efficiency: at 10 times the rate of other grains. Health Food Surprise In 2008, Meharg reported that arsenic in baby rice cereal sold in the U.K. exceeded safety levels set for drinking water by both the U.S. and the European Union. The Dartmouth researchers realized that all kinds of baby formulas and foods contained rice; many were thickened with rice starch. Although the teams initial tests found barely a trace of arsenic in baby formula and pureed baby food, later tests showed that two organic toddler formulas contained up to 60 ppb of arsenic (adjusted for dilution) six times the EPA safety limit for water. Labels on the formula canisters told why: They were sweetened with organic brown rice syrup, considered a healthy alternative to corn syrup. And while brown rice syrup is rare in baby foods, it is common in crackers, cereals, snack bars, energy bars and many products marketed as health foods. The Risks of Imported Food Almost 15 percent of foods consumed in the U.S. come from outside the country. penetration from overseas is so vast and complex that a single product might contain ingredients from multiple countries, a fact you would never discern from labeling on the food itself. Its risky. Every food factory in the U.S. is supposed to undergo rigorous inspection. Once imported foods reach our shores, they enter the distribution chain with little fanfare and scrutiny; some argue they are barely vetted at all. Instead, by and large, problems come to light when Americans get sick. Part of the problem is the lack of resources we ourselves direct to food from abroad: The FDA has a minuscule team of some 1,500 inspectors devoted to food imports, a workforce too small to screen more than a tiny fraction of the food that arrives at U.S. ports each year for microbial pathogens or other disease-causing contaminants Underwater Robots Patrol the Red Tide of Harmful Algal Blooms Concentrations of algae in our oceans and lakes have long bloomed naturally, but climate change and fertilizer runoff from farms have exacerbated the situation in recent years. The outcome: algal blooms so massive that ecosystems turn into dead zones, resource-poor realms inhospitable to other life. The most dangerous of the blooms, called harmful algal blooms, or HABs, are often reddish in color, leading observers to call them red tides. The dangers are as ominous as the name. Some of the algae, or phytoplankton, manufacture saxitoxin, a poison so devastating it is the underlying cause of paralytic shellfish poisoning, an often-lethal reaction to shellfish that are storing toxic algal cells. This January, two people in Malaysia died after eating cockles tainted with the stuff. Other phytoplankton produce domoic acid, a neurotoxin that kills people, birds and marine mammals snacking on contaminated fish and shellfish. . The fight against red tides may be taking place one algal and shellfish species at a time. Elsewhere in
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