Presence of arsenic in agricultural products from arsenic-endemic areas and strategies to reduce arsenic intake in rural villages



About 100 million rural people in Asia are exposed to arsenic (As)-polluted drinking water and agricultural products. Total and inorganic arsenic (t-As and i-As) intake mainly depend on the quality of drinking and cooking waters, and amounts of seafood and rice consumed. The main problems occur in countries with poor water quality where the population depends on rice for their diet, and their t-As and i-As intake is high as a result of growing and cooking rice in contaminated water. Workable solutions to remove As from water and breeding rice cultivars with low As accumulation are being sought. In the meantime, simple recommendations for processing and cooking foods will help to reduce As intake. For instance, cooking using high volumes of As-free water may be a cheap way of reducing As exposure in rural populations. It is necessary to consider the effects of cooking and processing on t-As and i-As to obtain a realistic view of the risks associated with intake of As in As-endemic areas.