Contaminant cause

Arsenic

Arsenic is a chemical element with symbol As and atomic number 33. Arsenic occurs in many minerals, usually in combination with sulfur and metals, but also as a pure elemental crystal. Arsenic is a metalloid. It has various allotropes, but only the gray form is important to industry.

The primary use of metallic arsenic is in alloys of lead (for example, in car batteries and ammunition). Arsenic is a common n-type dopant in semiconductor electronic devices, and the optoelectronic compound gallium arsenide is the second most commonly used semiconductor after doped silicon. Arsenic and its compounds, especially the trioxide, are used in the production of pesticides, treated wood products, herbicides, and insecticides. These applications are declining, however.[7]

A few species of bacteria are able to use arsenic compounds as respiratory metabolites. Trace quantities of arsenic are an essential dietary element in rats, hamsters, goats, chickens, and presumably many other species, including humans. However, arsenic poisoning occurs in multicellular life if quantities are larger than needed. Arsenic contamination of groundwater is a problem that affects millions of people across the world.

Risk Factor
0 effects
Measured in mg

Caution

Arsenic is highly toxic to human health. Inorganic and most toxic forms of arsenic (arsenate and arsenite) are found in soils, crops, and water, particularly in groundwater from deep wells, often used as drinking water. These compounds are also found in environmental tobacco smoke and arsenic-treated wood, used in most outdoor wooden structures in the United States.High levels of arsenic are present in agricultural fertilizer that is used for soil treatment; therefore, vegetables and fruits, if grown in this soil, contain high levels of arsenic. Arsenic has also been used as an additive to poultry feed to inhibit parasites. Arsenic is emitted by coal-burning power plants. As for organic forms of arsenic, large amounts of arsenobetaine or arsenocholine are found in contaminated fish; however, these forms are considered to be essentially nontoxic

Arsenic Health Risks

OutcomesEffectEvidenceReferences

Diabetes Lymphatic outcome
Diabetes
Lymphatic

Minor Increase

Evidence: High

1 study

Stroke Brain outcome
Stroke
Brain

Strong Increase

Evidence: Low

1 study

Coronary Heart Disease (Ischaemic Heart Disease) Cardiovascular outcome
Coronary Heart ...
Cardiovascular

Strong Increase

Evidence: Low

1 study

Cardiovascular Disease Cardiovascular outcome
Cardiovascular ...
Cardiovascular

Strong Increase

Evidence: Low

1 study

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