Taking Action: Arsenic and Our Children

By Russell H. Greenfield, MD Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine

Posted on | By Russell H. Greenfield, MD

You may have heard that some advocacy groups have discovered arsenic in apple juice, in some cases at levels higher than permissible in US drinking water. Dr. Oz and his staff have performed their own investigation into this matter, and they, too, found high levels of arsenic in some apple juice products. The findings raise significant health concerns for us and for our children, and have generated incredulousness that this could happen in our country.

From This Episode:

Arsenic Apple Juice

Take a breath. Should you be concerned? Yes.

Should you be angry? Yes, but I’ll discuss where you might direct that anger a little later.

Should you be frightened? No.

I repeat – no. It remains very unlikely that you have done any harm to yourself or to your children through the drinking of apple juice.

There are healthier ways to move forward, however, and it all starts with knowing the basics.

First, a disclaimer: I’ve never been a fan of fruit juice for kids, including apple juice, except as an occasional treat. Juices may offer some health benefits, but they’re also typically very high in sugar. Metabolically, the body handles fruit juice much like it does soda. Eating the whole fruit is always a better option.

What Is Arsenic?

Arsenic is the colorless, odorless compound at the center of this discussion. Arsenic is naturally abundant in our environment in such places as rock formations, minerals and soil, and is also a byproduct of human agricultural and industrial pursuits. Keep this in mind, because it’s important to understand we are all exposed to small, background amounts of arsenic on a regular basis from the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. Concerns only arise when considering the type of arsenic (organic or inorganic) we are exposed to, and especially the degree of exposure.

Article written by Russell H. Greenfield, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor of MedicineUNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine