High traces of toxic Cadmium has been found in rice produced in Bangladesh raising serious public health concerns, experts say.
Bangladesh has topped the list of 12 countries where high concentrations of Cadmium was found in rice samples during a recent study by the American Chemical Society (ACS).
Experts in the country agreed with the study.
But they said high Cadmium content in rice were confined to some regions and were not a country-wide phenomenon.
They say industrial wastes polluting the paddy fields and use of low-quality fertilisers during cultivation caused high Cadmium content in Bangladesh's rice.
The toxic metal causes cancer, heart disease and kidney diseases, they said.
The ACS study found .01 to .3 ppm Cadmium per kilogram in Bangladesh rice and the quantity, it said, was rising.
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recently found .0054 to .0505 ppm/kg in their own rice which they said was safe.
Sri Lanka came second in Cadmium contamination in the ACS study. The study also included Cambodia, Ghana, India, Italy, Japan, Nepal, Spain, Thailand, the USA and France.
An official of Bangladesh’s Soil Resource Development Institute (SRDI), who preferred anonymity, told bdnews24.com that the level of Cadmium contamination in rice was rising as the toxic substance was entering in the paddy fields near the industrial zones at an alarming rate.
“Low-quality TSP fertilisers and untreated wastes of garment factories, drug factories, textiles and tanneries which mix with water sources are causing high incidence of Cadmium in our rice,” he said.
Cadmium enters the rice through the plant as water from contaminated sources makes it way into the fields.
However, Sher-e-Bangla Agriculture University’s Professor Abdullahil Baque claimed that the Cadmium concentration level was not the same in rice from all regions of Bangladesh.
He told bdnews24.com that Cadmium presence was highest in the red soil of Dhaka and areas around the capital.
He also mentioned wastes of industrial zones, specially tanneries, could be the main cause for raising the level of Cadmium in rice.
Regarding the study of the American Chemical Society, Baque said, “They [ACS] probably collected the rice samples in an arbitrary manner and conducted the research. I can vouch that there is no Cadmium in river clay and fields in the northern region of the country.”
SRDI scientist said last year they collected sample of fertilisers sold by dealers across the country and found that 50 percent of the fertilisers were adulterated.
We found many metal substances including Zinc-sulphate, Gypsum and Cadmium in the fertilisers which are really lethal for the human body, he said.
Prof Abdullahil Baque said, “Cadmium above acceptable limits in human body causes cancer, heart disease and kidney diseases.”
He insisted on immediate steps for reducing the level of Cadmium from the water sources of the affected regions.
Baque suggested the ‘phytoremediation’ process to mitigate the pollutant and for removing metal concentrations from the soil.
He also recommended applying fertilisers after doing a ‘purity analysis’ to check the presence of Cadmium.