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What is arsenic and why is it bad for you?

Arsenic is a chemical that is highly toxic. It has 33 as its atomic number and has the chemical symbol As. It is a metalloid, and it’s mostly present in mass in groundwater. Basically, there are two forms of arsenic. 

Inorganic Arsenic 

Inorganic arsenic is the type of arsenic that is exposed to the environment in its pure states and is more harmful and cancerous when consumed. These are the types of arsenic found in leguminous foods. 

Organic Arsenic

Organic arsenic is the type of arsenic which is regarded as the safe type. Organic arsenic is mostly found in seafood like fish and shellfish.

Arsenic is mainly used as an alloy for the production of ammunition, i.e. gunpowder and batteries. It is recorded that most people, especially farmers, tend to use Arsenic as a main source and ingredient in pesticides. Health organizations around the world have detected a very amount of arsenic in most of the foods that we eat on a regular basis. Examples of these foods are fruit, vegetables, seafood and legumes like rice, maize, etc. Excessive consumption of these foods poses a very big threat to our health and overall well-being.

Arsenic, when it is consumed in very high amounts, is very dangerous and cancerous to our body, giving way to what we know as Arsenic poisoning. Arsenic poisoning is caused by the excessive intake of arsenic especially through water, air, and our food. Arsenic poisoning can lead to a headache, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, heart disease, and even cancer. 

Arsenic is mostly said to be present in foods like rice. Health organizations around the world have indicated a moderately high amount of arsenic present in rice grown in certain countries. Rice is a special type of legume that rapidly consumes organic arsenic from the environment more than others. The fact that rice contains more arsenic content means that an individual should moderate the rate at which rice is consumed.

What Is It Called On Labels

Arsenic contained in foods can be easily recognized and detected by the name monomethyl arsenic acid and dimethyl arsenic acid. These arsenic acids which are the types of organic arsenic commonly used in foods and beverages. These are the general names that are written on the labels of the foods and beverages which are known to contain certain arsenic content.

Should I stop eating rice because of arsenic?

There is no need to completely eliminate rice from your diet due to the arsenic content. If you have infants or toddlers you might want to wait until they are older before giving them rice or rice products such as cereal.

To reduce arsenic in rice, you should thoroughly rinse it before cooking. You may also bring the rice to boil and pour off this water, then add more water and continue to cook. You can eliminate eating commercial rice products and stick with cooking the rice yourself where you have control over how the rice is handled.


So, there you have it. Arsenic has posed to be very harmful to our overall health and well-being. Very high exposure to arsenic is poised to be harmful to our environment. Most countries in Asia and its environs are at very high risk of cancer and poisoning due to the high exposure of arsenic content in the atmosphere. Countries like Bangladesh are at very high risk due to excessive inorganic acid content in their water and their food. Arsenic poisoning can be avoided by controlling the high amount of arsenic-containing foods that we consume.

Why you should be concerned about arsenic in food