Study: Nearly 400,000 Californians lack safe drinking water, often due to ag pollution

Drinking water for more than 370,000 Californians is contaminated with arsenic, nitrate, and other chemicals, according to an extensive analysis by researchers at UC Berkeley and UCLA. In many cases, the state’s agricultural industry is to blame. (No paywall)

Scientists find enzyme that helps rice plants block arsenic

Rice tends to absorb arsenic from the soil more readily than other food crops, prompting concern about the presence of the chemical in baby food. "Scientists have identified enzymes that help rice plant roots tame arsenic, converting it into a form that can be pushed back into the soil," thereby reducing the threat to humans, says Science News.

With no regulations on arsenic in food, experts suggest ‘prudent avoidance’

Arsenic’s reputation as a potent poison has been known since ancient Greeks and Romans used it to dispatch rivals. But scientists are just beginning to get a handle on the risks that come from chronic exposure to low doses of arsenic, which has complicated efforts to regulate the most common route of exposure: through diet.

FDA wants limit for inorganic arsenic in rice cereal

Rice cereal is a common "starter" food for infants, but rice has higher levels of inorganic arsenic, a potential health risk, than other grains.

Putting rice in the coffee maker to flush out arsenic

"Cooking rice by repeatedly flushing it through with fresh hot water can remove much of the grain’s stored arsenic," says the journal Nature, citing newly published research on how to reduce levels of arsenic is one of the world's staple foods.

Oregon to warn of arsenic in softshell clams

Oregon state officials plan to warn the public of elevated levels of arsenic in softshell clams along the Pacific coast, and to suggest consumption limits, says the Salem (Ore) Statesman Journal.

White basmati, sushi rice lowest in arsenic, says magazine

Consumer Reports released consumption guidelines for consumer who want to reduce their exposure to inorganic arsenic in rice and again urged FDA to set standards for arsenic in rice-based foods.

Recruiting soil bacteria to keep arsenic out of rice

Researchers at the University of Delaware are looking at soil bacteria as a defense against arsenic build-up in rice, one of the leading food crops globally, says the New York Times. Long-term exposure to arsenic can be damaging to human health. One bacterium, Pantoa agglomerans, seems to reduce arsenic in the stems of rice plants to one-eighth of former levels, says scientist Harsh Bais in the Times article, which says it is the first microbe shown to reduce arsenic in rice. Research is now looking at whether the change affects rice quality.

UN agency sets limit for arsenic in rice

The Codex Alimentarius Commission, the UN's food standards body, adopted a maximum allowable level for arsenic in rice of 0.2 milligrams per kilogram during a meeting in Geneva. Arsenic occurs naturally at high levels in soil and groundwater in some parts of the world. Rice, a staple food for hundreds of millions of people, absorbs more arsenic than other crops. Long term exposure can cause cancer and skin lesions as well as other ailments.