The poisonous mineral has been used throughout history to commit murder. Some historians believe arsenic poisoning caused the death of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.
The substance can make its way into the food chain when poultry are fed arsenic-based drugs.
The poison is used in chicken feed to make poultry grow faster, to prevent parasites, and to give meat a pink, fresh color.
A study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives by researchers from Johns Hopkins University claimed that 88% of chickens reared for meat in 2010 received arsenic-based drug roxarsone. Roxarsone has since been discontinued but has been replaced with the “chemically similar” nitarsone, say the researchers.
The study claimed “arsenic exposure has been shown to cause lung, bladder and skin cancers and has been associated with other conditions, as well, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cognitive deficits, and adverse pregnancy outcomes.”
Banned: in the EU
Arsenic has never been approved for animal feed in the EU and is forbidden. In the US there is no federal ban, but Maryland imposed a state ban last January.