WWII poison gas taints rice crops

Kyodo

Organic arsenic compounds have been detected in rice harvested at farms in Kamisu, Ibaraki Prefecture, where the Imperial Japanese Army dumped chemical weapons, the Environment Ministry said Thursday.

The Ibaraki Prefectural Government said that although a toxicity test has found that the rice is not harmful to humans, it has asked the four farms not to put the rice on the market.

The authorities detected 0.043 mg to 0.11 mg of the compound per 1 kg of rice at the four farms. The farms produced a total of 13.7 tons of rice this year.

Diphenylarsine, found in the rice, is contained in sneezing gas, which was apparently abandoned by the Imperial army during World War II.

A connection between the poison gas and residents’ health problems was established last year, when alarming levels of arsenic were found in the town’s well water. A total of 39 wells for drinking water were found to be contaminated.