The FDA monitors and regulates levels of arsenic in certain foods because it can cause serious and life-threatening health problems. The FDA also monitors arsenic levels in dietary supplements and cosmetics.
Arsenic is a naturally occurring element in the environment that can enter the food supply through soil, water or air. Arsenic levels in the environment are generally low but can vary depending on the natural geological makeup of local areas. For example, volcanic eruptions can bring arsenic from the earth’s interior to the surface. Contamination from mining, fracking, coal-fired power plants, arsenic-treated lumber, and arsenic-containing pesticides also contribute to increased levels of arsenic in certain locations.