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 contaminate, 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

Non-Government Organizations

  • Harvard University (accessed: 9 April 2009). Site has information on health effects of chronic arsenic poisoning.


  • The Arsenic Century: How Victorian Britain was Poisoned at Home, Work, and Play by James C. Whorton from Oxford University Press, USA (March 28, 2010)
  • Environmentally healthy homes and communities. Children's special vulnerabilities. (2001). Am Nurse, 33(6), 26-38; quiz 39-40.
  • Hall, A. H. (2002). Chronic arsenic poisoning. Toxicol Lett, 128(1-3), 69-72.
  • Jiang, J. Q. (2001). Removing arsenic from groundwater for the developing world--a review. Water Sci Technol, 44(6), 89-98.
  • Liu, J., Zheng, B., Aposhian, H. V., Zhou, Y., Chen, M. L., Zhang, A., & Waalkes, M. P. (2002). Chronic arsenic poisoning from burning high-arsenic-containing coal in Guizhou, China. Environ Health Perspect, 110(2), 119-122.
  • Pott, W. A., Benjamin, S. A., & Yang, R. S. (2001). Pharmacokinetics, metabolism, and carcinogenicity of arsenic. Rev Environ Contam Toxicol, 169, 165-214.
  • Rahman, M. M., Chowdhury, U. K., Mukherjee, S. C., Mondal, B. K., Paul, K., Lodh, D., Biswas, B. K., Chanda, C. R., Basu, G. K., Saha, K. C., Roy, S., Das, R., Palit, S. K., Quamruzzaman, Q., & Chakraborti, D. (2001). Chronic arsenic toxicity in Bangladesh and West Bengal, India--a review and commentary. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol, 39(7), 683-700.
  • Smith, A. H., Lingas, E. O., & Rahman, M. (2000). Contamination of drinking-water by arsenic in Bangladesh: a public health emergency. Bull World Health Organ, 78(9), 1093-1103.
  • WHO. (2000). Towards an Assessment of Socioeconomic Impact of Arsenic Poisoning in Bangladesh. World Health Organization, Sustainable Development and Healthy Environments, WHO/SDE/WSH/00.4, 1-42.
  • Yu, H. S., Lee, C. H., Jee, S. H., Ho, C. K., & Guo, Y. L. (2001). Environmental and occupational skin diseases in Taiwan. J Dermatol, 28(11), 628-631.
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