Are Children Suffering Lead Poisoning . . . from Rice?
While it may get exhausting listening to the constant news reports about which food products are not healthy for us, a recent report by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) merits close scrutiny. Many parents justifiably worry about their children experiencing lead poisoning from sources like peeling paint, but it is much less likely that parents are worried about this same hazard because their children enjoy eating rice.
However, a new report delivered at the American Chemical Society by a team of researchers from Monmouth University indicates that rice imported from Europe, Asia and South America may have dangerous levels of lead. These nations account for seven percent of our total supply of rice.
The levels defected in the study found that the amount of lead present in imported rice from these sources is 30-60 times greater than the FDA's provisional total tolerable intake (PTTI) standard for exposure by children and is 20-40 times higher than normal exposure for adults. Under the PTTI standard, a toxic contaminant does not become a health risk until it exceeds the acceptable PTTI threshold by ten times. The report produced by the Monmouth researchers indicates that the levels found in the imported rice are 10-12 times higher than this safety threshold. This means that consumption of imported rice may result in serious adverse health effects because the PTTI standard represents the maximum exposure to a toxic contaminant before a person may suffer adverse health effects.
The study also considered the potentially higher risk of exposure for Asians that reside in the U.S. because their rice consumption level tends to be significantly higher than that of the average population. The researchers found exposure for kids in this ethnicity group was 60-120 times the PTTI level established by the FDA. This news is particularly alarming because young children are especially susceptible to lead poisoning, which can lead to cognitive and physical development deficiencies and wrongful death.
Excessive lead in the body can disrupt a range of body processes and poses a toxicity risk to many internal organs, such as the intestines, heart, kidneys and bones as well as the nervous and reproductive systems. Lead exposure can be extremely dangerous for children because excessive levels of lead in the blood can interfere with the development of the nervous system. Children exposed to lead paint and other sources of the heavy metal may experience permanent behavior and learning disorders. Significant or prolonged exposure can also result in seizures, coma and wrongful death.
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