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Alfatoxin and benzene are carconogenic, and this is the major concern for low, chronic doses. They are regulated to the few parts per billion level in food. However, according to http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cpdb/pdfs/ChemicalTable.pdf, aflatoxin is three to five orders of magnitude more carcinogenic, as evident from the lower doses needed to induce tumors in rodents.

Why are the permissible thresholds similar?

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If this doesn't get any joy here, we can consider moving it to Biology.SE if you want. –  jonsca Feb 17 '13 at 3:47
    
I suspect that chemophobia may play a role: benzene is PETROLEUM and so must be poison, but aflatoxin is more "natural". –  Kevin Kostlan Feb 17 '13 at 3:56
    
Well, the social response to chemicals isn't something that either Chemistry or Bio.SE is really in a position to answer, though. I'm just looking at it from a perspective of toxicology possibly being more on topic on Bio. I don't think anyone would have a problem if you want it to remain here. –  jonsca Feb 17 '13 at 3:59
    
I was going to write off your conjecture as cynical, but there's probably a kernel of truth to it. Most people simply have not heard of aflatoxin, despite the fact that it's virtually the mad cow disease of the peanut world. It's difficult to petition regulatory agencies for tighter controls over something you don't know exists. What gets me is that in the PDF you link, the TD50 for rats is less than 1% of that for mice. What's up with that? –  Richard Terrett Feb 17 '13 at 7:32

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