A Framework for Heavy Metal Prioritization and Mitigation for Reducing Metal Intake: Rice and Spinach Case Studies

Rice is a significant source of arsenic and other elemental toxins (e.g. mercury and cadmium) to the human diet, particularly in foods for babies and young children. Spinach is a significant source of the highly toxic metals Cd and Pb as well as other chemicals with negative health implications (e.g., organics, perchlorate), but the processes that lead to levels of concern in spinach differ from those in rice. This project will aim to design an adaptive, multi-part scoring system as the basis for prioritization of mitigation factors. This system will account for differences in commodities, metal combinations, soil-plant interactions and geochemistry, processing methods, and impact of these terms on the mean and variability of the metal concentrations of interest. This method should assess approaches to mitigation, helping prioritize methods that are both effective and achievable. In both risk and mitigation assessments, results will highlight research gaps, new research and action priorities, and propose a ranked and detailed set of proposed solutions.

Institution: University of Arkansas

Principal Investigator: Benjamin Runkle, PhD

Amount Awarded: $62,475

Date Awarded: April 13, 2022

This research is supported by the IAFNS Food and Chemical Safety Committee.