Until they were shown to increase the risk of cancer, chronic disease, and heavy metal toxicity, many companies “used metals as the predominant pesticide for many years, assuming it was safe,” said Dr. Leonardo Trasande, chief of environmental pediatrics at NYU Langone, to CNN. The health impact on children is even more pronounced. Consuming toxic heavy metals in food has led to the loss of over 11 million IQ points for babies under two years old, according to the study.
The study showed the worst culprits were rice-based foods, like rice cereals and rice puff snacks, which contained the highest levels of arsenic and were also the most likely to contain levels of all four toxic heavy metals. Fruit juices, sweet potatoes, and carrots were also shown to increase the risk of heavy metal exposure in babies. To help keep children safe and lower their risk of potential exposure, the study’s authors recommend feeding children safer, rice-free alternatives, like bananas or oatmeal, giving them water or milk instead of juice, and including a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in their diet.