Should you be concerned about arsenic?
Yes. While everyone is exposed to some arsenic, certain people are exposed to more arsenic on a regular basis. Find out if you might be exposed to more arsenic, and read on to learn what you can do to reduce your exposure.
Explore this website for details on arsenic in food, water and other sources, and follow the steps outlined on each page to reduce your arsenic exposure. See the Resource links for helpful tools, videos and more detailed information. The Definitions page provides explanations of arsenic-related words and terms.
Why is arsenic a problem?
You can't see, smell, or taste arsenic. At very high levels, arsenic is poisonous and causes serious and immediate health effects. In the U.S., levels of arsenic in food and water are usually too low to cause obvious symptoms or make you sick right away.
Many people in this country are exposed to low levels of arsenic through food, water and other sources that may increase their risk of diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes later in life.
Is Arsenic Regulated?
- Public water supplies are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
- If you drink from a private well, it is your responsibility to make sure your well water does not contain arsenic.
- Right now there are no regulatory limits for arsenic in food, but there are recommendations for arsenic in baby rice cereal and apple juice.
Arsenic Exposure: Animated Information
This interactive info-graphic provides an overview of exposure and health information about arsenic in water and common foods.
What can you do?
- If you have a private well, get your water tested.
- If you eat a lot of rice or other foods that are higher in arsenic, eat them less often or vary with other types of food that are lower in arsenic.
- If you are pregnant or have infants or children in your home, be sure your family's diet is as low in arsenic as possible since arsenic may negatively affect growth and development.
- Eat a varied diet to make sure you're getting balanced nutrition.
- Don't completely stop eating a food if it still provides nutritional benefits.
- Find out if you could be exposed to other sources of arsenic from pressure treated wood or living near industrial or hazardous waste sites.
- Stop smoking.
- Review this site to better understand your total arsenic exposure.
- Reduce your total arsenic exposure by following the recommendations in this website.
Where is the arsenic?
Arsenic is a metalloid naturally found in soil, air, water, plants and animals. As scientists are learning more about the importance of keeping arsenic exposure low, industry and food producers are already taking steps to reduce the amount of arsenic in the environment:
- The use of pesticides containing arsenic has been banned on food-producing land.
- Arsenic can no longer legally be used in animal feed.
- Arsenic is no longer used to pressure-treat wood.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and international food safety groups are considering maximum limits for arsenic in food.
Since it's impossible to totally eliminate arsenic from the world, it is up to you to decrease your arsenic exposure by making careful choices about your diet, your drinking water and other arsenic sources.