• Description
  • Key findings

Arsenic is a metalloid widely distributed in the earth's crust. Inorganic arsenic of geological origin is found in groundwater used as drinking-water in several parts of the world. Arsenic is emitted into the atmosphere by high-temperature processes such as coal-fired power generation plants, burning vegetation and volcanism. Soluble inorganic arsenic is acutely toxic and ingestion of large doses leads to gastrointestinal symptoms, disturbances of cardiovascular and nervous system functions, and eventually death. In survivors, bone marrow depression, haemolysis, hepatomegaly, melanosis, polyneuropathy and encephalopathy may be observed.

Arsenic and Arsenic Compounds - Environmental Health Criteria, No. 224 - Second Edition