Modifying the Parboiling of Rice to Remove Inorganic Arsenic, While Fortifying with Calcium

Habibur Rahman, Manus Carey, Mahmud Hossain, Laurie Savage, M Rafiqul Islam, Andrew A Meharg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
20 Downloads (Pure)


Using village-based rice processing plants in rural Bangladesh, this study considered how parboiling rice could be altered to reduce the content of the carcinogen inorganic arsenic. Parboiling is normally conducted with rough rice (i.e., where the husk is intact) that is soaked overnight at ambient temperatures, and then either steamed or boiled for ∼10 min, followed by drying. Across 13 geographically dispersed facilities it was found that a simple alteration parboiling wholegrain, instead of rough rice, decreased the inorganic arsenic content by 25% ( P = 0.002) in the final polished grain. Also, parboiling wholegrain had little impact on milling quality of the final polished rice. The wholegrain parboiling approach caused statistically significant median enrichment of calcium, by 213%; and a reduction in potassium, by 40%; with all other nutrient elements tested being unaffected. Milled parboiled rough rice had an enriched inorganic arsenic compared to nonparboiled milled rice, but parboiling of wholegrain rice did not enrich inorganic arsenic in the final milled product. Polished rice produced from the parboiling of both rough and wholegrain rice significantly reduced cadmium compared to nonparboiled polished rice, by 25%. This study also identified that trimethylarsine oxide and tretramethylarsonium are widely elevated in the husk and bran of rice and, therefore, gives new insights into the biogeochemical cycling of arsenic in paddy ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5249
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental science & technology
Issue number9
Early online date17 Apr 2019
Publication statusEarly online date - 17 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes

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