Widespread use of Arsenic drugs in animal food production

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008 Oct;1140:346-57.

The environmental and public health risks associated with arsenical use in animal feeds.


Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. esilberg@jhsph.edu


Arsenic exposures contribute significantly to the burden of preventable disease worldwide, specifically related to increased risks of

cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

An anthropogenic source of arsenic exposure stems from the

widespread use of Arsenic drugs in animal food production in the United States and China,
among many countries.

This use results in residual contamination of food products from animals raised with the drugs, as well as environmental contamination associated with disposal of wastes from these animals.

Land disposal of these wastes can contaminate surface and ground water, and the

conversion of animal wastes into fertilizer pellets for home use

as well as the introduction of animal waste incinerators may increase opportunities for exposure.

As an intentional additive to animal feed, use of arsenical drugs is a preventable source of human exposure.

The domestic practice of using these drugs in poultry production has been the subject of media attention and limited research, though the use of these drugs in domestic swine production and in the rapidly growing foreign animal production industry remains largely uncharacterized. This continued expansion of arsenical drug use may likely increase the burden of global human arsenic exposure and risk.


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