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 There's good news today for parents who give their kids apple juice: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced new draft guidelines that call for no more than 10 parts per billion of inorganic arsenic in apple juice - roughly the same level allowed in tap water.

Although some apple juices have tested high for arsenic, all 95 samples tested by the FDA already fell within the 10 ppb - reassurance that when it comes to arsenic levels, apple juice is safe.

"The most important message is we are confident in the safety of our juice supply," said FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg.

Pressure to develop the guidelines stemmed from a 2011 report on the Dr. Oz Show and arsenic testing by Consumer Reports, both of which raised questions about the safety of apple juice.

 In response, the FDA undertook additional testing and commissioned a risk assessment study to determine an arsenic limit based on the amount of juice a child might drink and the level of arsenic needed to cause health problems.

Although compliance with the guidelines is voluntary, Hamburg said they "expect industry to change what they do and use this new level for quality assurance."

Arsenic exists in our environment as a naturally occurring mineral and as a result of contamination from industrial activity and pesticides that used to be allowed in agriculture. In very high doses over a short period of time, the chemical can be deadly. At low doses over a long period of time, arsenic can increase the risk for lung and bladder cancer, cause skin disorders, developmental effects, diabetes, and problems with the heart and brain.

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Come on, leave arsenic alone!  Well, at least we still have fluoride in the drinking water. /s

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Arsenic is naturally found in soil and well / stream waters to varying degrees, plus there are the contamination issues in urban areas, so it's a good idea for prospective gardeners to have their soil checked by their County Extension Service. A plus is that they can also tell you exactly what kind of fertilizer your soil needs.

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