SEGH Articles

Reducing human exposure to arsenic and simultaneously increasing selenium and zinc intake, by substituting non-aromatic rice with aromatic rice in the diet

01 May 2013
A team of scientists led by Dr Parvez Haris is carrying out research to identify ways of reducing human exposure to arsenic through diet

Rice is the staple food of over three billion people.  The rice plant is highly efficient at absorbing arsenic from soil and water, it is reported to be the highest arsenic-containing cereal.  For Bangladeshi’s, rice is their staple food and they consume on average half a kilogramme of rice per day.

A team of scientists led by Dr Parvez Haris from DeMontfort University, Leicester, UK is carrying out research to identify ways of reducing human exposure to arsenic through diet.

Haris and his team have already demonstrated that exposure to the more toxic inorganic arsenic species is greater in people who eat more rice.  In this latest work, published in Biomedical Spectroscopy and Imaging, the DeMontfort University team – along with Dr Michael Watts from the British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham, UK – has identified varieties that are low in arsenic but high in essential trace elements such as selenium and zinc.

Earlier studies showed high concentrations of arsenic in Bangladeshi rice, but the rice samples were mainly regions where the irrigation water contains higher levels of arsenic. The team carried out a detailed study on rice from the greater Sylhet region in the north-east of Bangladesh, which generally has a lower groundwater arsenic concentration. The team analysed 98 rice samples using a technique called Inductively Couple Plasma – Mass Spectromtetry (ICP-MS) to determine total arsenic and also arsenic species in a selected group of samples.

The results showed Sylheti rice to have a far lower arsenic concentration than similar types of rice form other regions of Bangladesh. Results also showed that the arsenic concentration in aromatic rice was 40% less than non-aromatic varieties and that it also contained higher concentrations of the essential elements selenium and zinc. This is very good news for millions of Bangladeshis who are exposed to high concentrations of arsenic through drinking water and rice and are also deficient in zinc and selenium. Several varieties of Sylheti aromatic rice even had lower arsenic than the well known Basmati aromatic rice from India and Pakistan.

For someone consuming 500 grams of non-aromatic or aromatic rice from Sylhet, the daily intake of arsenic from rice would be approximately 48% and 69% lower, respectively, compared with consuming no-aromatic rie from other parts of Bangladesh. Bangladeshis are proud of their diet and often refer to themselves as ‘mache bhathe Bangali’ which can be roughly translated as ‘fish and rice makes a Bengali’. The identification of rice with very low arsenic concentrations and higher concentrations of essential elements is good news for the Bangladeshis and other communities where rice is a staple food but it is important ot encourage a more diversified diet that is less dependent on rice.

Aromatic rice is generally cultivated during the wet (aman) season and therefore is less dependent on the use of groundwater for irrigation. It also requires less fertilizer and pesticides. Although the yield of aromatic rice is lower, the farmers will not need to spend much money on applying chemicals that could pollute the environment and harm their own health. Furthermore, energy costs (electricity or diesel) will be lower as there will be less need for them to pump groundwater for irrigation.

The impact of this finding may also have health implications for other groups of people who eat large quantities of rice daily. This type of rice could also be used in infant foods in stead of rice with higher arsenic concentrations. It could also benefit people suffering from celiac disease who consume rice-based foods on a regular basis. Therefore, it is essential that further research on aromatic rice from different parts of Bangladesh and other regions of the world are conducted.

Dr Parvez Haris, DeMontfort University

pharis@dmu.ac.uk

Reference

Shaban W. Al-Rmalli, Richard O. Jenkins, Michael J Watts, Parvez I. Haris, 2012. Reducing human exposure to arsenic and simultaneously increasing selenium and zinc intake, by substituting non-aromatic rice with aromatic rice in the diet. Watts and Parvez I. Haris. Biomedical Spectroscopy and Imaging Volume 1 / Issue 5. DOI: 1010.3233/BSI-120028.

Full text of the article has been made freely available at http://iospress.metapress.com/content/r81n381j34421481/fulltext.pdf

 

Keep up to date

SEGH Events

Submit Content

Members can keep in touch with their colleagues through short news and events articles of interest to the SEGH community.

Science in the News

Latest on-line papers from the SEGH journal: Environmental Geochemistry and Health

  • Characteristics of PM 2.5 , CO 2 and particle-number concentration in mass transit railway carriages in Hong Kong 2017-08-01

    Abstract

    Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) levels, carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and particle-number concentrations (PNC) were monitored in train carriages on seven routes of the mass transit railway in Hong Kong between March and May 2014, using real-time monitoring instruments. The 8-h average PM2.5 levels in carriages on the seven routes ranged from 24.1 to 49.8 µg/m3, higher than levels in Finland and similar to those in New York, and in most cases exceeding the standard set by the World Health Organisation (25 µg/m3). The CO2 concentration ranged from 714 to 1801 ppm on four of the routes, generally exceeding indoor air quality guidelines (1000 ppm over 8 h) and reaching levels as high as those in Beijing. PNC ranged from 1506 to 11,570 particles/cm3, lower than readings in Sydney and higher than readings in Taipei. Correlation analysis indicated that the number of passengers in a given carriage did not affect the PM2.5 concentration or PNC in the carriage. However, a significant positive correlation (p < 0.001, R 2 = 0.834) was observed between passenger numbers and CO2 levels, with each passenger contributing approximately 7.7–9.8 ppm of CO2. The real-time measurements of PM2.5 and PNC varied considerably, rising when carriage doors opened on arrival at a station and when passengers inside the carriage were more active. This suggests that air pollutants outside the train and passenger movements may contribute to PM2.5 levels and PNC. Assessment of the risk associated with PM2.5 exposure revealed that children are most severely affected by PM2.5 pollution, followed in order by juveniles, adults and the elderly. In addition, females were found to be more vulnerable to PM2.5 pollution than males (p < 0.001), and different subway lines were associated with different levels of risk.

  • Comparison of chemical compositions in air particulate matter during summer and winter in Beijing, China 2017-08-01

    Abstract

    The development of industry in Beijing, the capital of China, particularly in last decades, has caused severe environmental pollution including particulate matter (PM), dust–haze, and photochemical smog, which has already caused considerable harm to local ecological environment. Thus, in this study, air particle samples were continuously collected in August and December, 2014. And elements (Si, Al, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn, Mo, Cd, Ba, Pb and Ti) and ions ( \({\text{NO}}_{3}^{-}\) , \({\text{SO}}_{4}^{2-}\) , F, Cl, Na+, K+, Mg2+, Ca2+ and \({\text{NH}}_{4}^{+}\) ) were analyzed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer and ion chromatography. According to seasonal changes, discuss the various pollution situations in order to find possible particulate matter sources and then propose appropriate control strategies to local government. The results indicated serious PM and metallic pollution in some sampling days, especially in December. Chemical Mass Balance model revealed central heating activities, road dust and vehicles contribute as main sources, account for 5.84–32.05 % differently to the summer and winter air pollution in 2014.

  • Annual ambient atmospheric mercury speciation measurement from Longjing, a rural site in Taiwan 2017-08-01

    Abstract

    The main purpose of this study was to monitor ambient air particulates and mercury species [RGM, Hg(p), GEM and total mercury] concentrations and dry depositions over rural area at Longjing in central Taiwan during October 2014 to September 2015. In addition, passive air sampler and knife-edge surrogate surface samplers were used to collect the ambient air mercury species concentrations and dry depositions, respectively, in this study. Moreover, direct mercury analyzer was directly used to detect the mercury Hg(p) and RGM concentrations. The result indicated that: (1) The average highest RGM, Hg(p), GEM and total mercury concentrations, and dry depositions were observed in January, prevailing dust storm occurred in winter season was the possible major reason responsible for the above findings. (2) The highest average RGM, Hg(p), GEM and total mercury concentrations, dry depositions and velocities were occurred in winter. This is because that China is the largest atmospheric mercury (Hg) emitter in the world. Its Hg emissions and environmental impacts need to be evaluated. (3) The results indicated that the total mercury ratios of Kaohsiung to that of this study were 5.61. This is because that Kaohsiung has the largest industry density (~60 %) in Taiwan. (4) the USA showed average lower mercury species concentrations when compared to those of the other world countries. The average ratios of China/USA values were 89, 76 and 160 for total mercury, RGM and Hg(p), respectively, during the years of 2000–2012.