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A recent study conducted by Tulane University has uncovered concerning levels of toxic metals in certain beverages that surpass the federal drinking water standards. Out of the 60 beverages tested, five were found to contain toxic metals exceeding the permissible limits. Specifically, two mixed juices exhibited elevated levels of arsenic, while a cranberry juice, mixed carrot and fruit juice, and oat milk contained excessive levels of cadmium.

The study, published in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, analyzed a variety of commonly found beverages, including single and mixed fruit juices, plant-based milks, sodas, and teas, for 25 different toxic metals and trace elements. Mixed-fruit juices and plant-based milks were found to have higher concentrations of toxic metals compared to other drinks.

Among the 25 elements tested, seven exceeded the drinking water standards in certain beverages, including nickel, manganese, boron, cadmium, strontium, arsenic, and selenium. While lead was detected in over 93% of the samples, the majority contained very low levels below 1 part per billion. The highest level of lead was found in a lime sports drink, but it still fell below the drinking water standards set by both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Although the health risks for adults consuming these beverages in smaller quantities are likely low, the study emphasizes the need for caution when offering such drinks to infants and young children. Toxic metals like arsenic, lead, and cadmium are known carcinogens and can cause organ damage and cognitive harm, particularly during early brain development in children.

Lead author Tewodros Godebo, an assistant professor of environmental health sciences at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, explained that these toxic metals likely originate from contaminated soil. While complete elimination of these naturally occurring metals is challenging, raising awareness about their presence and potential health risks is crucial.

The study's findings underscore the scarcity of peer-reviewed research investigating the contents of American beverages, making it vital to conduct more comprehensive studies in this area. Godebo and the research team advocate for conducting a risk assessment based on the collected data to evaluate the impact of consuming toxic metals on both children and adults. They are eager to continue exploring the composition of commercially available drinks and food products to better understand their potential health implications.

The recent study's findings regarding elevated levels of toxic metals in certain beverages serve as a call to action for increased awareness and further research. While moderation is key, individuals, particularly parents, are advised to exercise caution when selecting beverages for children, avoiding high volumes of mixed-fruit juices and plant-based milks. By shedding light on the presence of toxic metals in commonly consumed beverages, this study urges consumers to be mindful of their choices and encourages the scientific community to deepen its understanding of the potential risks associated with these contaminants.