Babies and young children may be at risk of exposure to arsenic due to their limited diets and small bodies. Soft foods such as rice and rice-based products, applesauce, foods mixed with pureed apples and pears are usually some of the first foods introduced to children.


Unfortunately, many of these foods and the products made with these ingredients can be a source of arsenic. In many areas of the US, rice fields and apple/pear orchards were previously treated with arsenic containing pesticides and/or fertilizers contaminated with arsenic. While most arsenic containing pesticides are now banned, the soil on which rice and fruit trees is grown still contains arsenic in some parts of the US. There are ways to reduce the risk of arsenic exposure from food sources that are healthful for infants and children as well as members of the family of any age. 

Farming & Arsenic

Arsenic is a toxic substance found in the environment. It can enter food through a number of different ways.
In the past, farmers used arsenic as a pesticide when spraying their crops. Traces of arsenic from these farming practices can still contaminate soil today. Naturally occurring arsenic from bedrock can also contaminate soil. High levels of arsenic have been found in rice fields and apple orchards.  
Arsenic was also used in antibiotics that were used to feed chickens and other livestock. The manure that is used as fertilizer in fields, mixes with the soil and can contaminate food crops.
The good news is that a lot of these farming practices are no longer used! Pesticides that contain arsenic are now mostly banned and the antibiotics that were used to feed chickens are also no longer used. However, remnants of these past practices means arsenic can still be present in farmland today, so it is best to vary your intake of certain foods that contain arsenic to limit your exposure.