Legislation Considered to Ban Arsenic in Feed

US - A proposal to ban the use of arsenic as a feed additive will be before the General Assembly again in the upcoming session, supported by a new report detailing the health risks.
calendar icon 21 December 2011
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The report from the Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology, Inc. shows that organic arsenic fed to poultry, converts to a more toxic inorganic arsenic when poultry waste is used as fertiliser.

Delegate Tom Hucker aims to reintroduce the legislation banning arsenic as poultry feed in 2012.

In the 2011 legislative session, opponents of a ban said science did not support concerns that the arsenic-containing ingredient could harm people or the environment.

The report states that, in some areas on the Delmarva Peninsula which have received poultry litter for decades, arsenic has accumulated to levels above both the Delaware and Maryland soil arsenic background remediation standards.

A number of papers indicate that the use of arsenic as a feed additive is not a sustainable practice since arsenic concentrations continue to accumulate over time and soil levels will eventually increase to concentrations above these background remediation standards.

Investigation of 508 shallow groundwater sites on the peninsula in the scientific literature reveal only four with arsenic concentrations above the current drinking water standard of 10μg per litre.

Deep drinking water aquifers are contaminated with arsenic at levels above the current drinking water standard but this appears to be from geological (i.e. natural) sources of arsenic.

Concentrations of arsenic in field ditches and receiving streams were not found to be above water quality criteria for the protection of aquatic life but were often above criteria for the protection of human health if resident biota was consumed from these areas.

Charlotte Johnson

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