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Arsenic retention in cooked rice: Effects of rice type, cooking water, and indigenous cooking methods in West Bengal, India

Mandal, Ujjal, Singh, Payel, Kundu, Amit Kumar, Chatterjee, Debashis, Nriagu, Jerome, Bhowmick, Subhamoy
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.648 pp. 720-727
arsenic, cooking, drinking, groundwater, households, rice, risk, rural areas, rural population, staple foods, India
This study evaluated the concentration of arsenic in paired raw and cooked rice prepared by individual households in arsenic-endemic rural area of West Bengal. The aim was to investigate how the cooking habits of rural villagers of West Bengal might influence the arsenic content of rice meals. It was found that the use of arsenic-rich groundwater for cooking could elevate the arsenic concentration in cooked rice (up to 129% above the raw sample), thereby enhancing the vulnerability of the rural population of West Bengal to arsenic exposure through rice consumption. The risk is heightened by the habit of drinking the stewed rice water (gruel) in the local communities. The cooking method employed, rice variety, background arsenic concentration in raw rice and cooking water arsenic concentration were found to be important predisposing factors that could affect the accumulation of arsenic in cooked form. The fundamental indigenous cooking practice followed by the villagers requires use of low-arsenic water for cooking as a necessary strategy to alleviate arsenic exposure in their staple food.