Outline of lay science topic
1. Arsenic Compound
Arsenic is in organic and inorganic form and its freely nature in water, air, and soil. The
ubiquitous metalloid has harmful effects depends on, the form of the compound, its oxidation
state and the length of exposure. Inorganic arsenic is more toxic than the organic.
2. Arsenic in rice
Rice is the world’s second staple food after maize and it is grown in flooded soils.
Farmers have used defoliants containing Arsenic for a long time offering a high possibility of
Arsenic presence in the rice plants (Signes-Pastor et al., 2016). There is a well-established
relationship between Arsenic and rice depending on the rice, where it is cultivated and the
processing. Although the main source of exposure of the Inorganic Arsenic is in dietary intake
smoking dry rice plants is another root of exposure.
Inorganic Arsenic is among the top hazardous substances in the ATSDR register
(ATSDR, 2018) Inorganic Arsenic is the first-level carcinogen with effects dependent on the
quantity and the length of exposure. Infants and young children are more susceptible than adults
in terms of per kilogram body weight. Rice together with its low allergic potential is a common
fortifier for most of the infants' foods commonly used during from weaning. Long-term exposure
increases the risk of lung, skin, bladder, prostate, liver and kidney cancers (Signes-Pastor et al.,
4. The Maximum Tolerable Level
Even though changes in the arsenic levels can occur during the preparation by use of
contaminated water, there are regulations in trying to lower the Arsenic levels from farming to
processing. Through the WHO expert committee, The Joint Food and Agriculture Organization
(JFA) made recommendations based on the risks for inorganic Arsenic intake (Hojsak et al.,
There should be more awakening regional monitoring of the rice Arsenic content and a combined
effort put into place to lower the content. Regulation of dietary products susceptible to inorganic
Arsenic should be stepped up especially for infants and kept as low as possible. Through Plant
Biotechnology we can lower the levels at the farm level (Deng et al., 2018)
The chances of consuming contaminated rice are high depending on cultural orientations,
fortified foods and poor regulations alternatives should span from the farmer to the consumers.
Farmers should have alternative crops, populations to adopt other staple foods and companies to
use other safe products to fortify infant foods and mothers to breastfeed their infants longer. Rice
polish should be adopted for treatment of Arsenic contaminated water in the farms (Ranjan et al,
c) Improved Farming methods
The anaerobic cultivation conditions are the major factors for inorganic Arsenic
mobilisation into the soil. The Alternate Wetting and Drying not only manages the amount water
used but it controls weeds and lowers the arsenic levels (Price et al., 2013).
d) Bio fortification alternatives
There are other sources which can be used to fortify infant’s foods like the gold rice and
therefore manufacturers should seek for more alternatives (Díaz-Gómez et al., 2017).
6. ways to determine Arsenic in rice
The compound intake at childhood affects the longtime health. Using rice to fortify
infants’ food spreads the risks of Inorganic Arsenic-related risks.
Substance Priority List | ATSDR. (2018, November 13). Retrieved from
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),
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.
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.
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.
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