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Trace Arsenic Levels Found In Baby Formula

The names of the two formula brands that have been flagged as potentially containing arsenic were not released.

A Dartmouth study published Thursday in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal revealed the potential presence of arsenic in infant formula.

Infant formula may contain arsenic (Photo courtesy AP)
Infant formula may contain arsenic (Photo courtesy AP)

Two of 17 infant formulas tested contained organic brown rice syrup, which may contain arsenic as one of the main ingredients.

One infant formula had a total arsenic concentration up to six times the federal limit for drinking water.

These worrisome levels are espeically dangerous to babies because of their vulnerability to the toxic effects of arsenic. The infant formula brands tested were not revealed. 

Lead author of the study Brian Jackson said, "In the absence of regulations for levels of arsenic in food, I would certainly advise parents who are concerned about their children's exposure to arsenic not to feed them formula where brown rice syrup is the main ingredient."

Researchers explain that rice is a plant highly efficient in absorbing arsenic from the soil, regardless of whether the final product is considered organic or not.

A study conducted in 2007 by Andrew Meharg at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland found that especially problematic is rice produced in the southern U.S., including the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Missouri. The study did, however, find that rice grown in California contained 41 percent less arsenic than that from the south-central U.S.

Arsenic has been known as a contaminate in water, and the U.S. federal limit of arsenic in drinking water is currently 10 parts per billion. However, there are currently no federal regulations for arsenic in juices and most foods.

A study conducted last month by Consumer Reports magazine revealed that certain types of cereal and juices contained arsenic levels that exceeds the federal drinking water stantards. 22 of 29 cereal bars tested contained alarmingly high arsenic concentrations.

On February 8, legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives for the FDA to establish arsenic standards for arsenic in fruit juices.

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