Arsenic concentrations in rice, vegetables, and fish in Bangladesh: a preliminary study

Environ Int. 2004 May;30(3):383-7. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2003.09.005.


Arsenic contaminating groundwater in Bangladesh is one of the largest environmental health hazards in the world. Because of the potential risk to human health through consumption of agricultural produce grown in fields irrigated with arsenic contaminated water, we have determined the level of contamination in 100 samples of crop, vegetables and fresh water fish collected from three different regions in Bangladesh. Arsenic concentrations were determined by hydride generation atomic absorption spectrophotometry. All 11 samples of water and 18 samples of soil exceeded the expected limits of arsenic. No samples of rice grain (Oryza sativa L.) had arsenic concentrations more than the recommended limit of 1.0 mg/kg. However, rice plants, especially the roots had a significantly higher concentration of arsenic (2.4 mg/kg) compared to stem (0.73 mg/kg) and rice grains (0.14 mg/kg). Arsenic contents of vegetables varied; those exceeding the food safety limits included Kachu sak (Colocasia antiquorum) (0.09-3.99 mg/kg, n=9), potatoes (Solanum tuberisum) (0.07-1.36 mg/kg, n=5), and Kalmi sak (Ipomoea reptoms) (0.1-1.53 mg/kg, n=6). Lata fish (Ophicephalus punctatus) did not contain unacceptable levels of arsenic. These results indicate that arsenic contaminates some food items in Bangladesh. Further studies with larger samples are needed to demonstrate the extent of arsenic contamination of food in Bangladesh.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Animals
  • Arsenic / analysis*
  • Bangladesh
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Fishes*
  • Food Contamination*
  • Humans
  • Oryza / chemistry*
  • Public Health
  • Safety
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*
  • Vegetables / chemistry*
  • Water Pollutants / analysis*


  • Soil Pollutants
  • Water Pollutants
  • Arsenic