Arsenic Detection in Rice


Alright. So what have we got here? We’ve got the strips
from yesterday. The surface of the
planet is pretty much contaminated with
naturally occurring arsenic compounds, which are
toxic to most life forms. In Southeast Asia, there’s
a particular problem with the arsenic
contamination of groundwater that’s used to
irrigate rice paddies. In Bangladesh, there are
some shocking statistics. Maybe as much as 1 and
1/2 million children and maybe a quarter
of a million adults will die of some
arsenic induced cancer. It’s a serious public
health problem. And just recently, I was asked
by Chemists Without Borders to develop a method that
would measure the arsenic compounds in rice. 70% of the world population
eats rice every day, so it’s a huge issue. And I’m trying to develop a
really cheap method, really simple for anyone to use. Crush up some rice,
put some chemicals in, and they can do the
test themselves. So that sample is safe to eat. And on to the next sample. By the end of the summer or
maybe partway through the fall semester, we’ll have
a procedure to be used at the Asian University
for Women in Bangladesh. I was born in Chittagong
in Bangladesh, and here I end up in a research
lab working with arsenic trying to save people over there. Helping out in any way I
can, it feels really nice. It feels really good.

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