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Arsenic in Food Chain: Bihar

Food Chain Contamination:

A recent study in Bihar has found Arsenic contamination not only in groundwater but in the food chain as well.

  • The research study was a part of the Project Nature and Nurture in Arsenic Induced Toxicity of Bihar jointly funded by the British Council in the United Kingdom and Department of Science and Technology in India.

Major Findings:

Food Chain Contamination:

  • Arsenic has found its way into the food chain – mainly rice, wheat and potato.
  • Arsenic contamination in groundwater has been a growing concern in several parts of the country.
  • Arsenic is present in the groundwater as it is used on a large scale for irrigation by farmers. That is how it finds its way into the food chain as well.

Food vs Water Contamination:

  • The food had more arsenic content than drinking water, even when arsenic levels in drinking water was above the World Health Organization (WHO) provisional guide value of 10 micrograms per litre (μg/L).
  • The concentration was higher in cooked rice compared to raw rice.


  • It is an odourless and tasteless metalloid widely distributed in the earth’s crust.
  • It is naturally present at high levels in the earth crust and groundwater of a number of countries. It is highly toxic in its inorganic form.