Arsenic, lead found in fruit juices
Fruits are healthy to eat, experts agree, but new research by a consumer group shows some fruit juices - a staple in children's diets - contain toxic arsenic or lead.
There are no federal limits now on either contaminant in fruit juices. But according to Consumer Reports, about 10 percent of the juices it sampled from five different brands had total arsenic levels exceeding federal drinking-water standards.
One in four samples checked also had lead levels higher than the Food and Drug Administration's limit for bottled water of 5 parts per billion.
While the FDA has dismissed previous reports of arsenic in apple juice by saying the contaminant was a harmless organic form of the chemical, Consumer Reports says most of the arsenic it found was inorganic arsenic, a known carcinogen.
Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, is calling on the FDA to set arsenic and lead limits for apple and grape juices, which are frequently consumed by children.
It's not clear how the contaminants got into the fruit juices, but environmental activists point out that one source may be coal-burning power plants which emit arsenic and other toxic pollutants into the air. They contend this is another reason for the Obama administration to move forward with new power-plant pollution regulations drafted by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Some power companies and their supporters in Congress oppose the rules, contending the costs of compliance will be too high, forcing the shutdown of some power plants and jeopardizing electrical reliability. Others point to the health benefits and say the fears of brownouts are overstated, noting that some power companies such as Baltimore-based Constellation Energy support the rule because they have already upgraded their plants' pollution controls to reduce toxic emissions.
For a list of brands tested and results, go here.
(Above: Student sipping apple juice at Mt. Washington Elementary School. 2005 Baltimore Sun photo by Kenrick Brinson)