Arsenic, a toxic metalloid, becomes highly concentrated in groundwater. As a consequence, in many countries of the world, it contaminates soil and drinking water, causing skin disorders, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. High concentrations of arsenic have been detected in several regions where rice is grown. The health impact of this contamination remains unclear.
Mayukh Banerjee, CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, India, and colleagues investigated this issue by comparing people who consumed rice containing more than 0.2 mg/kg arsenic with individuals who ate less contaminated rice. The analysis revealed that exposure to As-contaminated rice is associated with elevated genetic damage. The first group of subjects, in fact, presented a higher number of chromosomal abnormalities in the cells lining the urinary tract.
Arsenic contamination thus represents a severe health risk and strategies should be adopted to reduce its accumulation in rice.
- High Arsenic in Rice is Associated with Elevated Genotoxic Effects in Humans,
Mayukh Banerjee, Nilanjana Banerjee, Pritha Bhattacharjee, Debapriya Mondal, Paul R. Lythgoe, Mario Martínez, Jianxin Pan, David A. Polya, Ashok K. Giri,
Sci. Rep. 2013.