What in the World is Arsenic? Arsenic in our Food.

What in the World is Arsenic? Arsenic in our Food.

“The National Library
of Medicine presents… [Intro Music] “What in the world is arsenic?
Arsenic in our food.” Caleb: This rice is the best! Whatever my mom put
in it is so good! Gloria: Lucky you,
my lunch is so boring. My apple juice is the best part. Grace: I dunno you guys;
think about what you’re eating. Caleb, I read online
that arsenic is in rice. And Gloria, I heard
it’s in apple juice too. You guys could get
arsenic poisoning!! Caleb: I don’t know, Grace,
I don’t think it’s bad. Tastes pretty delicious to me! Gloria: I don’t know either,
but let’s find out! Caleb: What’s arsenic anyway? Grace: I remember Mr. Best
naming it on the periodic table. That’s its chemical symbol. Gloria: Yeah, he said it was
an odorless, tasteless element. Caleb: [alarmed] So how could we
tell if it’s in our food?? Gloria: Chill out, Caleb. Let’s first figure
out where arsenic is. Caleb: It’s an element on
the periodic table, right? It’s probably found in
the earth, water, or air- like a bunch of other ones. Grace: Just found a
great site from the National Library of Medicine, called the Environmental Health
Student Portal, let’s see! Grace: It says arsenic is
found in the Earth’s crust, air, and water. Caleb: Humans also add arsenic
to the environment through farming and mining. Caleb: People use arsenic in wood preservatives
and pesticides. Gloria: Arsenic exists
in different forms. Pure arsenic is rare; it usually
combines with other elements to form compounds, or combinations. Grace: Yeah, organic
and inorganic compounds. They’re kinda like
relationships; some are more toxic than others. Let me explain
with the chalkboard. Grace: When arsenic combines
with carbon and hydrogen, it makes organic
arsenic compounds, which are less toxic
than inorganic ones. Gloria: When arsenic combines
with another element like oxygen or chlorine, it
makes inorganic compounds, which are harmful
to human health. Caleb: What, I can’t
believe I’d never learned the science-y words
for this stuff. Grace: Caleb, Mr. Best talked
about that stuff two hours ago. Caleb: Sorry, I forgot! Grace: [incredulous]
From two hours ago? Caleb: What, I have
a short memory! Gloria: You guys, this
doesn’t tell me if I should be worried about what’s
in my apple juice! Is arsenic poisonous or not?? Caleb: My dad loves
to read mystery books; some of their plots
have arsenic poisoning. Grace: That’s not pulled out
of thin air; it can be toxic. Bad things have
happened in real life! There was a 19th century
Arctic explorer named Charles Francis Hall. Grace: He was
perfectly healthy until he drank a cup of coffee
one day…and died! People thought he died from a
disease, so no one suspected foul play, until almost
100 years later, when a biographer looked into it. The guy discovered that Hall
died from a lot of arsenic in his body…but the arsenic
was only present in the last two weeks of his life! People say his
crew murdered him. Caleb: Wow, that’s terrible! Grace: I know, right! Arsenic can be fatal,
but can also cause other health problems, like
cancer, skin color changes, and small warts. Gloria: [heavily sarcastic]
That’s not alarming. Caleb: [equally
sarcastic] Not at all. I see how that guy’s crew
put arsenic in his coffee, but how’s arsenic in my rice
or Gloria’s apple juice? Grace: Arsenic is in
soil and water, right? Some of it can make its way
to drinking water and food, since rice, apples, and
other fruits, vegetables, and grains are grown in the soil. There’s a teeny bit of
arsenic in a bunch of food. Some plants though, like rice,
take up arsenic from the soil more readily than others. Gloria: [worried] So
we’re in trouble, huh? Caleb: Not exactly. The dose makes the poison. For example, aspirin is helpful
for minor pain relief, and is pretty safe in small amounts,
but toxic in large ones. Not just that, we’re barely
exposed to arsenic. A teeny bit is in some food, but
it’s not like we’re mining and around high levels of it. Grace: How do you know
how much arsenic is okay? Gloria: Have you heard of the
Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA? My uncle works there! It regulates how much
chemicals are allowed in stuff. Grace: Let’s see what
it says about arsenic. Caleb: Got it! The EPA allows 10
parts per billion, or ppb, of arsenic
in drinking water. Caleb: 1 ppb is a sugar cube in
an Olympic-size swimming pool. If more arsenic than 10
ppb is found in water, special water treatment methods
are used to take it out. Gloria: What about
for apple juice? Caleb: Hold your horses,
I’m looking it up. [mutters under his breath]
Spotty Wi-Fi. Caleb: Ah ha! Another federal agency
called the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA,
has been checking out arsenic levels in food. Gloria: What does it say? Caleb: The FDA studied 94
samples of arsenic in apple juice, with 95% of them having
less than 10 ppb total arsenic. All of the samples were below
10 ppb for inorganic arsenic, the more toxic kind. Gloria: So I’m good? Caleb: Yeah, the FDA is pretty
confident that apple juice is safe for kids and adults. I wonder what it
says about rice. Grace: Arsenic levels in
rice have stayed the same over the past 20 years – low. Caleb: Meaning? Grace: You don’t need to
change how you eat rice. Caleb: Whew! You know what that means-
I’m chowing down! Gloria: It’s still good
to eat different grains. Caleb: [in a matter-of-factly]
You don’t know my family… Caleb: Hey mom,
what’s for breakfast? Caleb’s Mom: Rice. Caleb: What’s for lunch? Caleb’s Mom: Rice. Caleb: What’s for dinner? Caleb’s Mom:
Something different! Rice and beans. Gloria: [laughs]
Sounds like your mom. Gloria: I’m glad
we figured that out; I love apple juice. Thanks for looking out
for us, Grace, but relax. Grace: [Defensive] I
was just wondering! I’d seen this article
on the Internet- Caleb: Yeah, but
you can’t believe everything you read online. Gloria: The sites we
looked at were good, especially the Environmental
Health Student Portal. Caleb: Can it help with
last night’s homework, I still haven’t done it. Grace: Do it before lunch ends! Caleb: Hold up, lemme
finish my rice real quick.

26 thoughts on “What in the World is Arsenic? Arsenic in our Food.

  1. Omg why does she look like a bitch, she's about to be the one who puts arsenic in their foods 😷😷😂😂

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