Arsenic and Cadmium in Food-chain in Bangladesh - An Exploratory Study
Keywords:Arsenic, Arsenic contamination, Cadmium, Cooking process, Food, Bangladesh
AbstractArsenic contamination of tubewell water is a major public-health problem in Bangladesh. In the recent years, the use of shallow and deep tubewell water for irrigation and the use of excess amount of cheap fertilizers and pesticides containing cadmium pose a serious threat of contamination of arsenic and cadmium in food. In an exploratory study, arsenic and cadmium were measured in foods from Matlab, a rural area in Bangladesh, that is extensively affected by arsenic and the economy is agriculture-based. Raw and cooked food samples were collected from village homes (households, n=13) and analyzed to quantify concentrations of arsenic and cadmium using atomic absorption spectrophotometry. Washing rice with water before cooking reduced the concentration of arsenic in raw rice by 13-15%. Rice, when cooked with excess water discarded, showed a significant decrease in arsenic concentration compared to that cooked without discarding the water (p<0.001). In contrast, concentration of cadmium did not decrease in cooked rice after discarding water. Cooked rice with discarded water had significantly lower concentration of arsenic compared to raw rice (p=0.002). Raw rice had higher concentration of arsenic compared to raw vegetables (p<0.001); however, no such difference was found for cadmium. Compared to raw vegetables (e.g. arum), concentration of arsenic increased significantly (p=0.024) when cooked with arsenic-contaminated water. Thus, the practice of discarding excess water while cooking rice reduces the concentration of arsenic but not of cadmium in cooked rice. However, water generally not discarded when cooking vegetables to avoid loss of micronutrients consequently retains arsenic. The results suggest that arsenic and cadmium have entered the food-chain of Bangladesh, and the cooking practices influence the concentration of arsenic but not of cadmium in cooked food.
Key words: Arsenic; Arsenic contamination; Cadmium; Cooking process; Food; Bangladesh
J HEALTH POPUL NUTR 2010 Dec;28(6):578-584