- Inorganic arsenic—arsenic combined with oxygen, chlorine, or sulfur; found in the environment
- 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 a pesticide
- 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.)
- Thickening of skin
- Discoloration of skin
- Small “corns” or “warts” on the palms, soles, and torso
- Stomach pain
- Decreased production of red and white blood cells
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Damage to blood vessels
- Numbness in hands and feet
- Partial paralysis
- Garlic taste in mouth
- Ask about your symptoms
- Take your medical history
- Do a physical exam
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Hair or fingernail analysis
- 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, 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 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 April 2, 2013.
Arsenic poisoning. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/ . Updated December 4, 2012. Accessed April 2, 2013.
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.
Fauci A. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine . 16th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill; 2005.
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 April 2, 2013.
ToxFAQs for arsenic. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry website. Available at: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts2.html . Updated July 20, 2010. Accessed April 2, 2013.
- Reviewer: Igor Puzanov, MD
- Review Date: 11/2012 -
- Update Date: 03/18/2013 -