What is arsenic (arsenic) and is it harmful?

Arsenic (arsenic) is one of the most toxic elements in the world, occurring both in the natural environment and created by human activities. Water, air, food, soil, … are just a few of the many places that contain arsenic.

Since 1991, the US Food and Drug Administration has begun to study the arsenic content of human food and ultimately, they have confirmed that arsenic is not always as toxic as it is in the United States. swordplay movies.

What is arsenic (arsenic) and is it harmful?

Turn over the periodic table of chemical elements, look at line 4, column 15, you will see As, which is Arsenic. Chemically, it is a toxic metalloid with various allotropes: yellow (non-metallic molecule) and gray-black (metallic). The toxicity of inorganic arsenic is four times higher than that of mercury, which is recognized as a group one carcinogen. Arsenic and its compounds are used as insecticides, herbicides and in the manufacture of alloys. And of course, it is known as the most notorious poison in human history. In fact, it is very difficult for you to find Arsenic in its elemental form, but for the most part, it resides with other elements in the form of compounds.

Arsenic-containing compounds are divided into two groups:

Inorganic arsenic is an extremely toxic chemical and is known as the “king of poisons” . History has recorded that this poison was used not only by the common people but also by the royals of the dynasties in the assassination of enemies that threatened them. They chose arsenic because it is a perfectly odorless, tasteless poison. Therefore, it is not easy for the victim to find out that he is being poisoned. If a large amount of arsenic enters the body, they will adversely affect the circulatory system, the nervous system and can cause immediate death.

What is arsenic (arsenic) and is it harmful?

You don’t have to wait until you get a packet of yellow powder and put it in the pot to poison it, like in a swordplay movie, that food contains arsenic, but in fact, arsenic appears in nearly all foods and drinks. However, it usually exists only in small or very small concentrations. In particular, some sources of high concentrations of arsenic include:

The reason why rice has a higher arsenic content than other plants is due to the growing conditions. Although currently most of the pesticides containing arsenic have been banned from production or use, once used, its residue remains in the soil for a very long time, possibly 50 years or more. .

Meanwhile, rice is mainly grown in fields with a lot of water, from which inorganic arsenic will then follow the soil, water penetrates into the rice grain more easily. Fortunately, the arsenic that exists on rice grains is mainly concentrated in the husk and outer layer of the rice grain, which has been somewhat reduced through the milling process. Then when it comes to cooking rice, we are told to wash the rice before cooking, thereby pushing the amount of arsenic down to the least harmful level. This is probably also the reason why “Tam is less toxic than Cam”, right?

Other plants, vegetables, and seeds also contain certain levels of arsenic because they are still grown on land that still contains naturally occurring arsenic. Similarly, arsenic is present in water and seafood also contains arsenic, of course, the concentration depends on the level of pollution of the water source. So, do organic plants have arsenic? The answer is yes because it still grows on soil that naturally contains arsenic in it, regardless of the conventional farming method or organic farming.

What is arsenic (arsenic) and is it harmful?

Needless to say, pure arsenic is an extremely toxic chemical. It is likened to the poison of kings and the king of poisons. Why? The reason is that since ancient times people have used arsenic to poison each other. Its poisoning symptoms are quite vague, so it is easy to use in poisoning. Of course, its toxicity is known today, so even killing rats is rarely used because of its danger.

When the safe threshold is exceeded, arsenic in food, drinking water or air will become a poison that is dangerous to humans. The American Government Association for Industrial Hygiene stipulates that arsenic concentrations cannot exceed 10 micrograms in 1 cubic meter of air. The US Environmental Protection Agency regulates the amount of arsenic in water cannot exceed 10 parts per billion (PPB). And the US Food and Drug Administration regulates that in food, the maximum concentration of arsenic is only 0.5 to 2 parts per billion.

However, at normal levels, each of us every day ingests a certain amount of arsenic, no matter where you are, how clean your food is. The FDA confirms that the daily diet contains very little arsenic and therefore does not cause any acute toxic effects on the body. If ingested in large amounts for a long time, it can lead to many effects such as increasing the risk of cancer, narrowing or blocking of blood vessels, causing high blood pressure, heart disease or type 2 diabetes. Arsenic also For children or adolescents, if exposed to arsenic for a long time, it will cause impaired brain function, thereby affecting the ability to absorb, learn and memory.

Normal food itself still contains arsenic and this amount of arsenic is not harmful to the body. However, if you are still interested and want to reduce the amount of arsenic in food to a minimum, depending on the type of food, there are different methods, mainly in the preliminary processing and cooking stages. Paradoxically, brown rice is said to have a higher nutritional content than regular rice, but since it hasn’t undergone the vigorous milling process, the arsenic residue in it is also higher. And the way to reduce the amount of arsenic in both white and brown rice is to wash it thoroughly and cook it in arsenic-free water. Experiments show that washing rice before cooking will reduce the amount of arsenic in it by 10-28%, and washing it with a lot of water will reduce the amount of arsenic in rice, in return, the nutritional content will also go out. more.

It should be noted that even for normal brown rice and preliminary processing that we do every day, it is still safe for health. In other words, a diet with normal foods, although there is still arsenic there, but the levels are still at a safe level, there is no need to worry.