Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"They Actually Eat That:" Arsenic.

As a close runner-up to cyanide, arsenic is one of the most popular poisons in mystery novels. It also has the weird case, like lead, of being makeup at one point. What the hell were those Victorian women thinking? 

We are NOT amused.

Even today, however, this little monster of an element has not left our shelves. 88 samples of juices from various brands had worrisome levels of arsenic in them, maxing at 13.9 ppb for apple juice and 24.7 for grape. 10 ppb is the federal limit. Hey, we already eat cyanide. This is just another drop in the poison bucket.

Just this week, Consumer Reports published a detailed report on how much, how, and why arsenic winds up on grocery shelves. (I am, however, not VC, so I refuse to copy-paste articles.) This is not counting the natural (and surprisingly harmless) arsenic found in ground water found in fish. If you're curious about natural arsenic in your area of the country, check out this map. (Illinois finally beat Wisconsin at something!) This still does not explain how inorganic arsenic has wound up in our juice.

Modern agricultural products use inorganic arsenic. Certain chicken feeds have organic arsenic in them, as do many pesticides. It does not sound like it hurts the birds, but the digestive process turns the organic arsenic in that feed into inorganic arsenic, i.e. the deadly kind. Even if the chickens aren't harmed, we probably will be. The additive was stopped in 2011, but no doubt someone, somewhere, has found a way around FDA regulations. No wonder chicken's been very in lately.

The cows also endorse bad spelling.

Another source of inorganic arsenic is an old preservative used for lumber. Wood treated thus was used in decks and playground equipment until 2003. If that does not sound bad enough, consider that the arsenic from that coating seeped into the ground when the wood was recycled as mulch. This inorganic arsenic has been known to cause at least 3 different kinds of cancer and diabetes, so it should definitely not be in our food.


Any more gaps? Ask China. Yes, even our juice and fruit is made in China. They use arsenical pesticides and have high arsenic content in their water. Arsenic's everywhere unless you grow your own apples, really. Look up a few images of arsenic poisoning for the possible consequences. THAT one I will not do for you.

Besides demanding overdue regulations for arsenic, Consumer Reports also wanted regulations on the lead amounts in juice. Wow, America IS like ancient Rome in so many ways.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Apologies for deleting the previous post. I spoke before I'd read all the information. I was surprised at how the information on the map seemed to stop at state lines. Upon reading further I realized, for the most part, the states with more information were the ones that had done their own studies. I wondered if the geological differences between Illinois and Wisconsin effected the concentration of arsenic. It actually looks like there's simply more information on arsenic in Wisconsin. I'm not sure if we can count that as a win for Illinois. :)

  3. Haha! Valid point. If we don't have poison in our water, we have poison in our politicians, so it balances out. XD