Cape Girardeau man looks to reduce arsenic levels in rice | Health
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Missouri S&T announced Tuesday a graduate student in environmental engineering is working with Dr. Jianmin Wang, an associate professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering, to find ways to reduce the arsenic content in rice.
That graduate student, Eric Farrow, is from Cape Girardeau and earned his bachelor's degree in environmental engineering from S&T in 2010.
Farrow's research, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is a joint project of S&T and Dr. John Yang at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Dr. Wengui Yan at the USDA Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center and Dr. Baolin Deng at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
"We’re looking at the correlations between the arsenic concentration in the grain and the arsenic availability and mobility in the soil," said Farrow. “The risk is even greater for people who regularly consume up to four times the amount of rice in the average diet.“
S&T says for decades, arsenic-containing pesticides and defoliants were used in the cotton fields of the south-central United States. Although this type of treatment is no longer in practice, the university says the toxic metal has accumulated in the soil. Now much of this land is used for rice crops, and rice grown in this area may contain elevated levels of arsenic.
According to S&T, several varieties of rice are being cultivated in arsenic-contaminated soils at their greenhouse, located in the Butler-Carlton Civil Engineering Hall on campus. Different applications of phosphates and iron oxides are also used in the soils. Farrow says these compete with arsenic and may help to reduce harmful levels in the rice grain.
Farrow says he was drawn to this research project because of a long-time interest in food safety. Through this research, Farrow says he hopes to find a place for food safety in the broad field of environmental engineering.
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