Rice, flushing the toilet and tap water 'could be slowly poisoning you', scientists warn

But experts believe that we might be exposing ourselves to potentially harmful bacteria regularly, thanks to seemingly innocent food items and household objects.

The research, which is being presented today at the Society for Risk Analysis is calling for government bodies to educate the public on the health risks that certain foods pose – as well as plumbing systems.

Two most ubiquitous but dangerous things? Rice and toilets.

Rice contains poison

We regularly read how important it is to reheat rice properly to avoid coming down with tummy trouble.

But Dr Zheng Zou from Indiana University looked into the bioaccessibility (how easily our stomachs absorb it) of arsenic in rice and found, after analysing 143 articles, that we absorb the majority of the arsenic found in rice.

That arsenic can build up over time.

Arsenic is a chemical element that occurs in many minerals. Too much of it can lead to arsenic poisoning – symptoms of which start with headaches, confusion, severe diarrhoea and drowsiness.

It's not the first time that concern has been raised over rice.

Back in 2014, Consumer Reports released a report on arsenic in rice which found that: "One serving of (rice cereal or rice pasta) could put kids over the maximum amount of rice we recommend they should have in a week.

"Rice cakes supply close to a child's weekly limit in one serving. Rice drinks can also be high in arsenic, and children younger than 5 shouldn’t drink them instead of milk."

Regular exposure to small amounts of arsenic has been linked to an increased risk of bladder, lung and skin cancer, as well as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

It's also thought to have a detrimental effect on the immune systems of babies if exposed to the substance in the womb.

But what about all those people in Asia, for example, who live off rice? Japan, for example, has one of the highest life expectancies in the world and it's a massive rice consumer.

Well, the traditional method of cooking rice in Asia is designed to get rid of toxins.

Rinsing raw rice thoroughly before cooking and then cooking it using a ratio of six cups of water to one cup of rice and draining excess water afterwards can help. Although that might reduce the nutritional value of grains, it'll also bring down the arsenic level.

Tap water is making us sick

If you can't be bothered to invest in a Brita filter, this might change your mind.

Lead exposure is still an issue for lots of people – meaning that you could be drinking tap water laced with the metal.

Abhishek KomandurUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been looking into the relationship between water lead and blood lead in kids under the age of seven.

A direct link was found between the two and although government organisations have done a lot to try to replace lead piping in public drinking systems, lead exposure does still happen.

In 2014, the drinking water source for the city of Flint, Michigan, USA, was changed to come from the Flint River. Due to insufficient water treatment, lead leached from the lead piping into the drinking water – exposing over 100,000 residents.

Lead poisoning can cause belly pain, constipation, headaches, memory problems and infertility. It's especially dangerous for children and unborn babies who can develop learning difficulties as a result.

Your loo is full of toxins

Whenever it's discovered that a restaurant is filthy, it's often compared to a toilet seat – which is supposed ot be surprisingly clean.

But inside the loo itself is another matter altogether.

Michigan State expert, Ryan Julien, looked at the age of water in people's homes.

He found that while lots of us waste less water because we've got more advanced flush systems, that also means that we've got more stale water hanging around.

Less water means we're not pushing the old sludge out – and that means older, dirtier, more toxic water is hanging around in our loos.

That, he claims, is creating fertile ground for all kinds of nasty bugs and bacteria to fester and grow – increasing our chances of developing things like Legionnaire's, tuberculosis and drug-resistant infections like Strep.

BBQ meat is cancerous

Not a new thing really but fresh findings from the International Agency for Research on Cancer has confirmed that grilling meat on BBQ really isnt' a good idea, healthwise.

Although you won't get cancer from the odd grill, barbecued meat does contain high concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – a group 1 carcinogen.

While you won't suddenly develop cancer from having the odd grilled sausage, you could be upping your risk over a long period of time.

And that because of the risk from dietary exposure, health organisations may start advising us to limit the amount of barbecued meats that we eat.

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