Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Arsenic contamination in food and water supplies

Date:
April 10, 2013
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
After virtually eliminating arsenic as a useful tool for homicide, science now faces challenges in doing the same for natural sources of this fabled old "inheritance powder" that contaminates water supplies and food, threatening more than 35 million people worldwide.

After virtually eliminating arsenic as a useful tool for homicide, science now faces challenges in doing the same for natural sources of this fabled old "inheritance powder" that contaminates water supplies and food, threatening more than 35 million people worldwide.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of a book documenting arsenic's horrific history as a poison highlighted that situation at a far-ranging symposium on arsenic in New Orleans on April 10 during the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society. The following topics were among the two dozen presentations at the "Arsenic Contamination in Food and Water" symposium:

  • Poisoner's cupboard: The long (and sometimes homicidal) history of arsenic in everyday life.
  • Arsenic in rice and rice products.
  • Remediation of arsenic contamination of groundwater in Asia and USA.
  • Development of a method for assessing perinatal exposures to heavy metals using residual dried blood spots from newborn screening programs.
  • Pick your poison? Arsenic in harvested country foods, edible mushrooms and wine from Canada.
  • Low, slow and Next Gen impact: Arsenic, human health and cancer risks.

"Because of its sinister, homicidal uses, arsenic -- a naturally occurring element found in the Earth's crust -- became world-renowned as the 'inheritance powder,'" explained Deborah Blum, the plenary speaker for the symposium. "What made arsenic such a good homicidal poison is the same thing that makes it dangerous in environmental exposures -- it gives no warning," said Blum, who is at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "It's mostly tasteless, it's odorless, and it's colorless. The symptoms of arsenic poisoning, especially if given in small doses over a long time, mimic those of natural diseases, so for a long time, people got away with it. Arsenic became one of the great historical poisons in human history."

Blum described how arsenic remained largely the poisoner's first choice until the 19th century, when manufacturers started using it in pesticides, candies, jewelry and even in wallpaper to give it a deep green color. It even found uses in patent remedies and as an additive in certain foods. It was all over the place and easy for anyone to get.

"At the start of the 19th century, scientists started realizing that they had to put a stop to this free-wheeling, murderous situation," she explained. "That's when the big revolution happened -- scientists finally figured out how to detect arsenic in the body. Slowly, people realized they couldn't easily get away with it anymore, and arsenic became more difficult to obtain -- manufacturers stopped adding it to common household products."

Other speakers in the symposium focused on the ongoing problem of arsenic contamination in the 21st century. Arsenic occurs naturally in elevated concentrations in the soil in certain areas of the world. It sometimes leaches into drinking water supplies and food. Recent reports in the news media have drawn attention to its presence in apple juice and rice, and in groundwater in Bangladesh and Chile.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Arsenic contamination in food and water supplies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130410103919.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2013, April 10). Arsenic contamination in food and water supplies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130410103919.htm
American Chemical Society. "Arsenic contamination in food and water supplies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130410103919.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) The World Health Organization has declared Nigeria free of Ebola. Health experts credit a bit of luck and the government's initial response. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Another Study Suggests Viagra Is Good For The Heart

Another Study Suggests Viagra Is Good For The Heart

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) An ingredient in erectile-dysfunction medications such as Viagra could improve heart function. Perhaps not surprising, given Viagra's history. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Worries End for Dozens on U.S. Watch Lists

Ebola Worries End for Dozens on U.S. Watch Lists

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 20, 2014) Forty-three people who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., were cleared overnight of twice-daily monitoring after 21 days of showing no symptoms. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fauci: Ebola Protocols to Focus on Training

Fauci: Ebola Protocols to Focus on Training

AP (Oct. 20, 2014) Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says he expects revised CDC protocols on Ebola to focus on training, observation and ensuring health care workers are more protected. (Oct. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins