A Small Dose of Arsenic

  • An Introduction into the Health Effects of Arsenic

Arsenic Dossier

Name: Arsenic

  • Use: wood preservative, pesticides, semiconductor manufacturing
  • Source: coal combustion, drinking water, environment, medical drug, seafood
  • Recommended daily intake: none (not essential)
  • Absorption: inhalation, intestine - inorganic high, organic low, skin
  • Sensitive individuals: children
  • Toxicity/symptoms: Peripheral nervous system (tingling in hands in feet), skin cancer (ingestion), lung cancer (inhalation); Hyperpigmentation (keratosis) of palms and soles; vascular complications
  • Regulatory facts: EPA - Drinking water 10 µg/L (0.01 ppm, 10 ppb)
  • EPA - RfD - 0.3 µg/kg/day
  • OSHA - Workplace air 10 µg/m3
  • ATSDR - MRL - 0.3 µg/kg/day
  • General facts: long history of use as medicine and poison
  • Environmental: global environmental contaminant, bioaccumulates in fish and shellfish (mostly in a form that is not harmful)
  • Recommendations: avoid, do not use arsenic-treated lumber, test drinking water

Arsenic Chapter

PowerPoint Presentation

More Information and References

European, Asian, and international Agencies

North American Agencies

  • Health Canada. Arsenic in Drinking Water. Health Canada provides information on the health effects of arsenic in drinking water.
  • US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Arsenic Compounds. EPA site has general information and research on arsenic.
  • US Geological Services (USGS). Arsenic in Groundwater. Site contains a map of United States showing arsenic in water.

Non-Government Organizations



  • "Environmentally healthy homes and communities. Children's special vulnerabilities." Am Nurse, 33, 6 (2001): 26-38; quiz 39-40.
  • Hall, A. H. "Chronic arsenic poisoning". Toxicol Lett, 128, 1-3 (2002): 69-72.
  • Jiang, J. Q. "Removing arsenic from groundwater for the developing world—a review". Water Sci Technol, 44, 6 (2001): 89-98.
  • Pott, W. A., Benjamin, S. A., and R. S. Yang. "Pharmacokinetics, metabolism, and carcinogenicity of arsenic". Rev Environ Contam Toxicol, 169, (2001): 165-214.
  • Rahman, M. M., et al. "Chronic arsenic toxicity in Bangladesh and West Bengal, India--a review and commentary". J Toxicol Clin Toxicol, 39, 7 (2001): 683-700.
  • Smith, A. H., Lingas, E. O., and M. Rahman. "Contamination of drinking-water by arsenic in Bangladesh: a public health emergency". Bull World Health Organ, 78, 9 (2000): 1093-1103.
  • WHO. "Towards an Assessment of Socioeconomic Impact of Arsenic Poisoning in Bangladesh". World Health Organization, Sustainable Development and Healthy Environments, WHO/SDE/WSH/00.4, (2000): 1-42.
  • Yu, H. S., et al. "Environmental and occupational skin diseases in Taiwan". J Dermatol, 28, 11 (2001): 628-631.


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