Unsafe Seafood? Monte Carlo Analysis Finds Increased Cancer Risk Due to Arsenic-heavy Seafood

While finding risk analysis solutions is important for companies and businesses, it is paramount when it comes environmental and human health. Simulations that help evaluate risk are crucial in helping scientists understand, and try to mitigate some of the threats living organisms face. Take, for example, a new study to be published in August 2013 that measures the  probabilistic risk of arsenic consumption via seafood by people living in the southwestern region of Taiwan.
Arsenic is a known poison and carcinogen that occurs in both organic and inorganic compounds. Organic arsenic compounds tend to be less toxic, while inorganic is more so.  Inorganic arsenic compounds tend to come from industrial and agricultural sources, which can make its way into the enviornment and lead to its eventual uptake into the foodchain.
In this study, the researchers had to tackle both the variability  of arsenic levels in the seafood, as well as individual consumption habits. Using Monte Carlo simulation, they were able to conduct an assessment of exposure to arsenic, finding that arsenic consumption from five types of fish and shellfish for the 95th percentiles falls below the threshold set by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization, however,  it exceeds the target cancer risk. According to the authors of the paper, “this study demonstrates the importance of the individual variability of seafood consumption when evaluating a high exposure sub-group of the population who eat higher amounts of fish and shellfish than the average Taiwanese.”  
Palisade's @RISK Monte Carlo simulation software can be used to conduct the types of analyses used in this study, yielding key probabilities for risk of disease and environmental concerns.

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