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Study finds toxic metals in commonly consumed beverages exceed federal drinking water standards

According to a recent study by Tulane University, some beverages commonly consumed by the public contain toxic metals at levels that exceed federal drinking water standards. Out of the 60 drinks tested, five had levels of toxic metal above the federal drinking water standards, including two mixed juices with arsenic levels above 10 micrograms/liter, a cranberry juice, a mixed carrot and fruit juice, and an oat milk, all of which had cadmium levels exceeding 3 parts per billion.

The study measured 25 different toxic metals and trace elements in various drinks, such as single and mixed fruit juices, plant-based milks, sodas, and teas. Mixed-fruit juices and plant-based milks, including oat and almond milk, were found to have elevated concentrations of toxic metals more frequently than other drinks.

The findings, published in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, revealed that seven out of the 25 elements exceeded drinking water standards in some of the drinks tested. These included nickel, manganese, boron, cadmium, strontium, arsenic, and selenium. Although lead was detected in over 93% of the samples, most contained very low levels below 1 part per billion. The highest level of lead (6.3 micrograms/kg) was found in a lime sports drink, but it was still below the EPA and WHO standards for drinking water. These results demonstrate the need for further monitoring and regulation of toxic metal levels in commonly consumed beverages.

The recent study by Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, led by Tewodros Godebo, sheds light on the lack of peer-reviewed research on toxic and essential elements in American beverages. Godebo expressed surprise that such studies are scarce, highlighting the need for further research in this area.

While adults may face low health risks due to consuming soft drinks in smaller quantities than water, Godebo cautioned parents to be mindful of what they offer their children. Infants and young children should avoid high-volume intake of mixed-fruit juices and plant-based milks containing known carcinogens like arsenic, lead, and cadmium. These elements can cause cognitive harm and internal organ damage in children, particularly during early brain development.

According to Godebo, the presence of these metals in beverages is primarily due to contaminated soil as they occur naturally and are difficult to eliminate entirely.

Hannah Stoner and Julia Ashmead, Tulane University students who participated in the study, hope the findings encourage individuals to be more conscious of what they consume. Stoner suggested moderation and noted that dosage often plays a crucial role in toxicity. The study raises awareness about the need for further research in this area.

Godebo plans to conduct a risk assessment based on the data collected to determine the impact of consuming toxic metals in children and adults. He also expressed a desire to continue exploring the contents of commercially sold drinks and foods.

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