Protect Your Children From Arsenic
April 5, 2013
Arsenic is a naturally occurring metalloid, a material with properties of both metals and non-metals. Sometimes considered a heavy metal, it’s found in small quantities in food as well as in drinking water in regions of the country where natural concentrations exist in the ground.
Arsenic is extremely toxic when ingested or absorbed through the skin. It is a suspected endocrine disruptor and has also been linked to diabetes, hypertension cardiovascular disease, high levels cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased blood cell production, abnormal heart rhythm, and blood vessel damage. It may also increase the risk of many cancers.
To minimize your family’s arsenic exposure, keep an eye on the following common sources:
- Chicken can sometimes contain arsenic. Arsenic is administered in various ways to industrial flocks to promote growth, add pigment to flesh, and prevent disease. It gets into the meat as well as the water supply near the (factory) farms. Arsenic isn’t permitted for use in organic chicken, making it a better option.
- Rice also frequently contains arsenic according to tests conducted by Consumer Reports. Rinsing rice thoroughly, cooking it in a 6:1 water-to-rice ratio and draining the excess, and selecting imported varieties like basmati and jasmine can greatly reduce arsenic levels.
- Pressure-treated wood items like deck lumber, patio furniture, children’s playground equipment, benches, and picnic tables may contain chromated copper arsenic (CCA), a form of the element used for rot-resistance that can easily leach from products that contain it. Wood that has been pressure treated with CCA has a greenish tint though this tint can fade over time. CCA is no longer used for wood in residential products or playgrounds, but older structures can contain wood preserved before CCA was phased out. If you suspect arsenic has been used to treat wood you own, seal it every six months with a waterproof sealant. And always have the kids wash their hands after playing and before eating.
- Water supplies in Alaska and the western and southwestern U.S. can sometimes be contaminated with arsenic. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires that community water systems monitor arsenic levels and alert the public when levels exceed the set Maximum Contamination Level (MCL) of 10 parts per billion (ppb). If your water is supplied by a well, keep in mind that monitoring and any necessary filtration is up to you.