Online Program

Quantitative Evaluation of Arsenic Exposure from Baby Rice Cereal

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tomoyuki Shibata, Ph.D., Public Health Program, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL
Can Meng, MPH, Division of Statistics, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL
Josephine Umoren, Ph.D., Nutrition and Dietetics Program, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL
Arsenic contamination in baby rice cereal, which is one of the most common first solid foods, is a rising concern because there are no set standards or quantitative guidelines available for food products in the U.S.  The objective of this study was to evaluate whether detected arsenic levels in baby rice cereal (e.g. 1.2x10-4±4.7x10-5 mg/g) were safe for consumption by young children.  The average daily dose (ADD) and chronic daily intakes (CDI) were estimated  from the reported inorganic arsenic concentrations in rice cereal  and the recommended amounts of rice cereal consumed by infants and toddlers based on their body weights between ages  four to 24 months, in the literature.  Hazard quotients (HQs) for acute and chronic exposures were calculated based on ADD with the ATSDR’s minimal risk level (MRL)acute (5.0x10-3 mg/kg/day) and CDI with MRLchronic (3.0x10-4 mg/kg/day).  A maximum contaminant level (MCL), the highest level of inorganic arsenic allowed, in rice cereal was computed considering the MRLchronic from other sources (e.g. drinking water, formula, fruits, vegetables, and meats).  A Monte Carlo simulation was performed and showed that ADD (3.7x10-4 at 50th and 1.3x10-3 mg/kg/day at 90th percentile) and CDI calculations (8.8x10-6 at 50th and 3.0x10-5 mg/kg/day at 90th percentile).  The HQacute and chronic from rice cereal were 0.25 and 0.10 at 90th percentile, respectively.  Even though the trace levels of arsenic detected in rice cereal could be allowable, it is possibly the largest single source (53%) of inorganic arsenic for young children followed by drinking water (18%), which is regulated.  The study suggests monitoring rice cereal for inorganic arsenic based on a MCL of 2.2x10-3 mg/g (or total arsenic of 3.6x10-3 mg/g assuming that 60.5% of total arsenic in rice cereal is inorganic).  Further investigation is required for potential policy interventions in order to protect public health.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate quantitative risk assessment of baby rice cereal and discuss pros and cons of research methodologies and intervention efforts.

Keyword(s): Environmental Health, Food Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I’m a PI of this project. I have worked on multiple federal grant funded projects focusing on chemical (e.g. arsenic) and microbial exposures. I use both risk assessment and epidemiologic approach in order to improve the scientific basis for environmental health decision-making.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.