Arsenic comes in two forms: organic and inorganic. Organic arsenic forms naturally in certain foods, such as fish. This type of organic arsenic, known as arsenobetaine, is considered nontoxic.
Chronic exposure to inorganic arsenic, however, has been linked to a host of health problems including high blood pressure, diabetes, reproductive problems, and bladder and other cancers. In children, chronic inorganic arsenic exposure may lead to diminished intelligence and dramatically higher rates of lung cancer later in life. In addition to fruit juices, inorganic arsenic is found in some foods and drinking water from some private wells.
In addition to testing the juices, Consumer Reports also studied the connection between drinking juice and arsenic exposure. People who regularly drink apple juice had 19% higher urine arsenic levels than non-apple juice drinkers. Grape juice drinkers had 20% higher urine arsenic levels.
The study didn’t include children under six, which means the findings may underestimate young kids’ arsenic exposures. Dr. Robert Wright of Harvard University explains, “Because of their small size, a child drinking a box of juice would consume a larger per-body-weight dose of arsenic than an adult drinking the exact same box of juice.”
While it is impossible to avoid all inorganic arsenic, several steps can limit exposure:
(“Arsenic in your juice.” Available at www.consumerreports.org/cro/consumer-reports-magazine-january-2012/arsenic-in-your-juice/index.htm. Accessed December 4, 2011.)