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Your Environment. Your Health.

Rice Consumption and Arsenic Exposure in Pregnant Women

Margaret Karagas, Ph.D., A. Jay Gandolfi, Ph.D., Tracy Punshon, Ph.D., Carol Folt, Ph.D., Brian Jackson, Ph.D., Diane Gilbert-Diamond, Sc.D., Joann Gruber, Vicki Sayarath, MPH
Dartmouth College, Dartmouth Medical School, University of Arizona
NIEHS Grant P20ES018175, P42ES004940, P42ES007373


NIEHS grantees report that urinary arsenic concentrations were higher for pregnant women who had recently consumed rice than for those who had not. The findings highlight the need to monitor arsenic levels in food.


The researchers tested for arsenic in the urine of 229 pregnant women in New Hampshire, 73 of whom reported eating rice during the two days before urine collection. The arsenic concentration of the tap water in the women’s homes was also tested to identify any exposure from drinking water. The women who reported eating rice during the two days prior to urine collection had a median total urinary arsenic concentration of 5.27 micrograms per liter, which was significantly different from the 3.38 micrograms per liter median concentration for those who did not consume rice.


The researchers note the need for more research to determine any health impacts of this source of exposure. Any identified health risks will also need to be weighed against the nutritional benefits of eating rice.

Citation: Citation: Gilbert-Diamond D, Cottingham KL, Gruber JF, Punshon T, Sayarath V, Gandolfi AJ, Baker ER, Jackson BP, Folt CL, Karagas MR. 2011. Rice consumption contributes to arsenic exposure in US women. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 108(51): 20656-20660.

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