High levels of metal lead, a hazardous chemical substance, were found in various kinds of rice and fish in the Philippines, according to a study.
The study conducted by Dr. Judilynn Solidum, a pharmacist and faculty member of the University of the Philippines-Manila, found that 10 kinds of rice and fish that were randomly bought in markets in Metro Manila contained high levels of metal lead that exceeded acceptable safety limits.
Upon examination, it was found that all varieties of rice went beyond the acceptable limits for children set by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Four brands of rice such as NFA (National Food Authority) rice, Malagkit (regular), Dinorado and Malagkit (violet) exhibited lead levels beyond the acceptable limits for adults.
Meanwhile, all kinds of fish sold in markets, except janitor fish, were also found to be unsafe for both children and adults.
The samples were analyzed using a Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry (FAAS) to identify the chemical composition found in the rice and fish.
The World Health Organization (WHO) ranks lead as one of the top ten chemicals threatening major public health worldwide.
Lead is a cumulative toxic substance that can affect multiple body systems when exposed.
Children are considered the most vulnerable to its toxic effects, which can affect their central nervous system and cause other developmental problems when exposed to the substance.
“Lead is a principal environment contaminant since it can be distributed in different components of the earth. Adults absorb around 20-30 percent of the heavy metal on ingestion, while children absorb up to 50 percent,” Solidum noted in her study.
Previously, she conducted studies on metal lead contamination in water, fruits, vegetables and shellfish.
Solidum recommended in her study to improve food processing methods to lessen food contamination and ensure the safety of consumers, and to initiate an environmental clean-up to get rid of lead contaminants in the country and to identify its source.
The study titled “Heavy Metal Lead in Filipino Staple Food as Studied in Metro Manila, Philippines” was published in the APCBEE Procedia science journal.