Some imported rice has levels of lead high enough to pose health risks, especially to children, scientists found.

An analysis of rice imported from Asia, Europe and South America showed levels far beyond FDA recommendations, researchers said at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans on Monday.

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“Such findings present a situation that is particularly worrisome given that infants and children are especially vulnerable to the effects of lead poisoning,” lead researcher Tsanangurayi Tongesayi said in a press release. “For infants and children, the daily exposure levels from eating the rice products analyzed in this study would be 30-60 times higher than the FDA’s provisional total tolerable intake (PTTI) levels. Asians consume more rice, and for these infants and children, exposures would be 60-120 times higher. For adults, the daily exposure levels were 20-40 times higher than the PTTI levels.”

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The analysis follows a recent report that more than half a million kids in the United States had blood lead levels of conern in 2010. That report was based on new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that parents of children with lead levels of 5 micrograms per deciliter should be alerted. In the past, the standard was 10 micrograms per decileter.

The good news? Overall, lead levels in children have dropped. The average fell to 1.3 micrograms per decileter using the data from 2007-2010.

Rice from Taiwan, China, Czech Republic, Bhutan, Italy, India and Thailand had the highest amounts of lead. Researchers are still analyzing samples from Pakistan, Brazil and other countries.

Photo: Getty Images