Thursday, September 15, 2011

Arsenic

There has been publicity recently over the amount of arsenic in the apple juice that many children drink. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a statement that there is no evidence of any public health risk from drinking these juices and that FDA has been testing them for years.

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element found in water, air, food, and soil in organic and inorganic forms. Inorganic arsenic compounds can be harmful at high and long-term levels of exposure. Organic arsenic compounds are essentially harmless. Because both forms of arsenic have been found in soil and ground water, small amounts may be found in certain food and beverage products, including fruit juices and juice concentrates.

FDA has been tracking total arsenic contamination in apple and other juices for about six years, since foreign producers started gaining an increasing share of the juice market.

Most people ingest small amounts of arsenic each day from various foods, including rice products and shellfish. One of the big sources of arsenic exposure to be on the lookout for in Maine is arsenic in private well water. Half of Maine families get their drinking water from private wells, and 10% of these wells have arsenic levels above the current drinking water standard of 10 micrograms per liter. Only about 45% of families with wells have tested their well water for arsenic -- if you have a well, make sure you have tested it for arsenic.

For more information about arsenic, see this US CDC fact sheet.

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