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Evaluation of Health Risks from Consuming Vegetation Foraged
in Kelly Brook Wetlands in the Vicinity of the Beede Waste Oil NPL Site



If someone is exposed to arsenic, several factors will determine whether harmful health effects will occur and what the type and severity of the effects will be. Factors such as how much gets into the body, how long someone is exposed, other chemicals someone is exposed to and individual characteristics like age, lifestyle and general health status can influence whether someone will experience adverse health effects from arsenic exposure.

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element in the environment. The average natural level in New Hampshire soils is around 5 parts per million (ppm)5. High doses of arsenic can cause death. Lower doses can irritate the stomach and intestines, causing pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Other effects from low exposure levels can include decreased production of red and white blood cells, abnormal heart rhythm and impaired nerve function causing a "pins-and-needles" sensation in hands and feet. Food and water are the major sources of arsenic exposure to most people. The levels of arsenic that most people ingest (around 0.025- 0.05 ppm/day) from food and water are not usually considered to be of health concern. There is no good evidence that lower levels of arsenic exposure can injure pregnant women or their fetuses.

Long-term oral exposure to low levels of arsenic can cause skin changes, such as darkening of the skin and the appearance of warts on the palms, soles and torso. These changes are not dangerous in themselves, but can indicate an increased risk of skin cancer from arsenic exposure. Ingesting arsenic can also increase the risk of liver, kidney and bladder cancer. Arsenic is classified as a human carcinogen.


Exposure to arsenic and resultant health risks from consuming marsh marigolds was evaluated further. There is a very slight increased risk of cancer to someone who eats marsh marigolds containing the maximum concentration of arsenic over a lifetime. It is unlikely that all the marsh marigold consumed will be at the maximum concentration. Cooking marsh marigold removes some of the metals, such as arsenic, and helleborin in the plant tissue reducing potential risk to the consumer. There were no other long-term non-cancer health effects identified for adults or children eating approximately six meals of marsh marigold per year. Short-term health risks from eating marsh marigolds over the six week harvest period were evaluated for adults and children and did not pose a significant health threat.

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