Consumer Reports say they found arsenic and lead in apple and grape juices they tested from samples collected on the East Coast. About ten percent of their apple juice samples contained arsenic at levels above federal drinking-water standards for arsenic. One out of four of their juice samples contained lead at a level higher than the FDA’s bottled water limit. They also said they analyzed public health data from 2003 through 2008, and found grape and apple juice are a significant source of arsenic.
The main form of arsenic they found in their juice samples from five brands was inorganic. This form is a health hazard when ingested or absorbed through the skin. According to the EPA,
“For ingestion and dermal (skin) routes of exposure, adverse effects are most often manifested in skin (skin discoloration and lesions) and in the gastrointestinal tract (nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain) (1). Ingestion exposure has also been linked to cancer of the skin, bladder, liver, and lung (1). Inhalation exposure has been linked to increased incidence of irritation of mucous membranes and lung cancer (1). Inorganic arsenic is classified as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) by the U.S. ATSDR (1), U.S. EPA.”
Consumer Reports also noted children drink large quantities of juice, so they might be more susceptible to health conditions related to inorganic arsenic and lead exposure. Lead exposure can interfere with a child’s development. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, “Even when exposed to small amounts of lead levels, children may appear inattentive, hyperactive and irritable. Children with greater lead levels may also have problems with learning and reading, delayed growth and hearing loss. At high levels, lead can cause permanent brain damage and even death.”
One possible source of arsenic in apple juice is lead-arsenate insecticides, which were used long ago and are thought to have remained in soil used for growing apple trees, to this day. Also, a very large amount of apple concentrate is imported from China, and the same kind of pesticides could be used on apple tree growing soil there.
The study focused on samples collected in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York in August and September. It appears they sampled well-known juice brands that are not organic, so drinking organic apple and grape juice, not made from concentrate imported from China might be safer, though one might want to carefully research where organic juices are sourced from as well.
Image Credit: Dmitry Kichenko