Embedded Health Risk from Arsenic in Globally Traded Rice

Luis M Nunes, Gang Li, Wei-Qiang Chen, Andrew A Meharg, Patrick O'Connor, Yong-Guan Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


International food trade is fundamental to global food security but with often negative consequences in the producing country. We propose a method of quantifying flows of inorganic arsenic (iAs) and embedded increased lifetime cancer risks (EHR) at a global scale, where negative impacts are felt on the importing country. Computations were made for 153 countries. Vietnam exports the most iAs embedded in rice (796 kg/year) followed by India (788 kg/year), Thailand (485 kg/year), and the United States (323 kg/year). We show that continental China, Indonesia, and Malaysia have the highest imports of iAs (292, 174, and 123 kg/year, respectively). Bangladesh ranks highest in EHR followed by Vietnam and Cambodia (150, 141, and 111 per 100,000, respectively). Countries that depend exclusively on imported rice are importing a substantial amount of risk, as, e.g., Kiribati and Solomon Islands (57 and 53 per 100,000, respectively). We discuss the potential policy options for reducing population dietary health risks by well-balanced apportioning of rice sources. This study targets policy design solutions based on health gains, rather than on safe levels of the risk factor alone.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental science & technology
Early online date03 May 2022
Publication statusEarly online date - 03 May 2022


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