Do arsenic levels in rice pose a health risk to the UK population?

Menon, Manoj and Sarkar, Binoy and Hufton, Joseph and Reynolds, Christian and Reina, Saul Vazquez and Young, Scott (2020) Do arsenic levels in rice pose a health risk to the UK population? Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 197. ISSN 0147-6513

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Consumption of rice and rice products can be a significant exposure pathway to inorganic arsenic (iAs), which is a group 1 carcinogen to humans. The UK follows the current European Commission regulations so that iAs concentrations must be < 0.20 mg kg−1 in white (polished) rice and <0.25 mg kg−1 in brown (unpolished) rice. However, iAs concentration in rice used for infant food production or direct consumption has been set at a maximum of 0.1 mg kg−1. In this context, this study aimed to evaluate iAs concentrations in different types of rice sold in the UK and to quantify the health risks to the UK population. Here, we evaluated 55 different types of rice purchased from a range of retail outlets. First, we analysed all rice types for total As (tAs) concentration from which 42 rice samples with tAs > 0.1 mg kg−1 were selected for As speciation using HPLC-ICP-MS. Based on the average concentration of iAs of our samples, we calculated values for the Lifetime Cancer Risk (LCR), Target Hazard Quotient (THQ) and Margin of Exposure (MoE). We found a statistically significant difference between organically and non-organically grown rice. We also found that brown rice contained a significantly higher concentration of iAs compared to white or wild rice. Notably, 28 rice samples exceeded the iAs maximum limit stipulated by the EU (0.1 mg kg−1) with an average iAs concentration of 0.13 mg kg−1; therefore consumption of these rice types could be riskier for infants than adults. Based on the MoE, it was found that infants up to 1 year must be restricted to a maximum of 20 g per day for the 28 rice types to avoid carcinogenic risks. We believe that consumers could be better informed whether the marketed product is fit for infants and young children, via appropriate product labelling containing information about iAs concentration.

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Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 197, 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2020.110601
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Deposited On:
01 May 2020 13:35
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 09:00