- Inorganic arsenic—arsenic combined with hydrogen, oxygen, chlorine, or sulfur; found in the environment, sometimes as a gas
- Organic arsenic—arsenic combined with carbon and hydrogen; found in animals and plants
- To preserve or pressure-treat wood—this use is being phased out except for specific applications such as railroad ties and utility poles, but old stocks may still be around and pose a risk
- As an ingrediant in pesticides
- To produce glass
- In copper and other metal manufacturing
- In the electronics industry
- In medicine
- Breathing air containing arsenic
- Eating food contaminated with arsenic
- Drinking water contaminated with arsenic
- Living in areas with high natural levels of arsenic
- Working in a job that involves arsenic
|Arsenic can be inhaled into the lungs.|
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- Companies that preserve wood with arsenic
- Metal manufacturing industry
- Glass production industry
- Electronic industry
- Other industries that use arsenic
- Living in an area with high natural levels of arsenic
- Smoking—Arsenic is found in tobacco products, like cigarettes.
- Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as:
- Metallic or garlic taste in the mouth
- Vomiting, possibly with blood
- Watery diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
- Paralytic symptoms, such as:
- Cardiovascular system failure
- Central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) slows down
- Death, which can occur in hours
- Recurring diarrhea
- Thickening of skin
- Discoloration of skin
- Small corns or warts on the palms, soles, and torso
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Numbness in hands and feet
- Partial paralysis
- Blood tests showing more than 5 micrograms per liter in the blood
- Urine tests showing more than 50 micrograms per liter in the urine
- Hair or fingernail analysis can determine chronic poisoning
- If you work with arsenic-treated wood at home, wear a dust mask, gloves, and protective clothing. Do not burn any wood that has been treated with arsenic compounds.
- If you live in an area with high natural levels of arsenic, use cleaner sources of water and limit contact with soil. If you have well water, have it tested for a variety of contaminants, including arsenic.
- If you smoke, talk to your doctor about you can successfully quit.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov
US Environmental Protection Agency http://www.epa.gov
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety http://www.ccohs.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Arsenic. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry website. Available at: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/substances/toxsubstance.asp?toxid=3. Updated March 3, 2011. Accessed February 10, 2014.
Arsenic and drinking water from private wells. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/private/wells/disease/arsenic.html. Updated May 3, 2010. Accessed February 10, 2014.
Acute arsenic poisoning. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 4, 2012. Accessed February 10, 2014.
Chen Y, Graziano JH, Parvez F, et al. Arsenic exposure from drinking water and mortality from cardiovascular disease in Bangladesh: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2011;342:d2431.
Chronic arsenic poisoning. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 30, 2012. Accessed February 10, 2014.
Fourth national report on exposure to environmental chemicals. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/pdf/FourthReport.pdf. Published 2009. Accessed February 10, 2014.
ToxFAQs for arsenic. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry website. Available at: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts2.pdf. Updated October 26, 2011. Accessed February 10, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 02/2014 -
- Update Date: 00/21/2014 -