A metallic element that forms a number of poisonous compounds, arsenic is found in nature at low levels mostly in compounds with oxygen, chlorine, and sulfur. These are called inorganic arsenic compounds. Arsenic in plants and animals combines with carbon and hydrogen. This is called organic arsenic. Organic arsenic is usually less harmful than inorganic arsenic. Most arsenic compounds have no smell or special taste. Inorganic arsenic compounds are mainly used to preserve wood. They are also used to make insecticides and weed killers. Copper and lead ores contain small amounts of arsenic. When arsenic enters the environment, it does not evaporate. It gets into air when contaminated materials are burned. It settles from the air to the ground where it does not break down, but can change from one form to another. Most arsenic compounds can dissolve in water. Fish and shellfish build up organic arsenic in their tissues, but most of the arsenic in fish is not toxic. Exposure to arsenic can come from: {{}}Breathing workplace air with sawdust or burning smoke from wood containing arsenic Ingesting contaminated water, soil, or air at waste sites Ingesting contaminated water, soil, or air near areas naturally high in arsenic Inorganic arsenic is a human poison. Organic arsenic is less harmful. High levels of inorganic arsenic in food or water can be fatal. A high level is 60 parts of arsenic per million parts of food or water (60 ppm). Arsenic damages many tissues including nerves, stomach and intestines, and skin. Breathing high levels can give you a sore throat and irritated lungs. Lower levels of exposure to inorganic arsenic may cause: {{}}Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea Decreased production of red and white blood cells Abnormal heart rhythm Blood vessel damage A "pins and needles" sensation in hands and feet Long term exposure to inorganic arsenic may lead to a darkening of the skin and the appearance of small "corns" or "warts" on the palms, soles, and torso. Direct skin contact may cause redness and swelling. Arsenic is a known carcinogen (cancer-causing agent). Breathing inorganic arsenic increases the risk of lung cancer. Ingesting inorganic arsenic increases the risk of skin cancer and tumors of the bladder, kidney, liver, and lung. Tests can measure a person's exposure to high levels of arsenic. These tests are not routinely performed in a doctor's office. Arsenic can be measured in the urine. This is the most reliable test for arsenic exposure. Since arsenic stays in the body only short time, one must have the test soon after exposure. Tests on hair or fingernails can measure exposure to high levels of arsenic over the past 6-12 months. These tests are not very useful for low level exposures. These tests do not predict whether you will have any harmful health effects. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets limits on the amount of arsenic that industrial sources can release. It restricted or canceled many uses of arsenic in pesticides and may restrict more. EPA set a limit of 0.05 parts per million (ppm) for arsenic in drinking water. EPA may lower this further. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) established a maximum permissible exposure limit for workplace airborne arsenic of 10 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/mł).
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A metallic element, atomic no. 33, atomic wt. 74.92159; forms a number of poisonous compounds, some of which are used in medicine. SYN: arsenium, ratsbane. [L. arsenicum, G. arsenikon, fr. Pers. zarnik]
- a. acid the hydrate of a. oxide or a. pentoxide which forms arsenates with certain bases.
- a. trihydride SYN: arsine.
- a. trioxide As2O3; dissolves in water to give arsenous acid, H3AsO3; used in the treatment of skin diseases and malaria, and as a tonic; also used externally as a caustic. SYN: arsenous oxide, white a..
- white a. SYN: a. trioxide.

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ar·se·nic 'ärs-nik, -ən-ik n
1) a trivalent and pentavalent solid poisonous element that is commonly metallic steel-gray, crystalline, and brittle symbol As see ELEMENT (table)
ar·sen·ic är-'sen-ik adj of, relating to, or containing arsenic esp. with a valence of five

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a poisonous greyish metallic element producing the symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, cramps, convulsions, and coma when ingested in large doses. Drugs used as antidotes to arsenic poisoning include dimercaprol. Arsenic was formerly readily available in the form of rat poison and in fly-papers and was the poisoner's first choice during the 19th century, its presence in a body being then difficult to detect. Today detection is relatively simple. Arsenic was formerly used in medicine, the most important arsenical drugs being arsphenamine (Salvarsan) and neoarsphenamine, used in the treatment of syphilis and dangerous parasitic diseases. Symbol: As.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Arsenic — (pronEng|ˈɑrsənɪk) is a chemical element that has the symbol As and atomic number of 33. Arsenic was first documented by Albertus Magnus in 1250cite book |last=Emsley |first=John |title=Nature s Building Blocks: An A Z Guide to the Elements |year …   Wikipedia

  • ARSENIC — L’arsenic est l’élément chimique de symbole As et de numéro atomique 33. Bien qu’il soit très répandu dans le règne minéral et dans les organismes vivants, une quarantaine d’éléments sur quatre vingt douze sont plus abondants que lui; il ne… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • arsenic — ARSÉNIC s.n. Pulbere fină, albă, cu miros de usturoi, foarte toxică pentru om; arsen (2). ♢ (Adjectival) Acid arsenic = acid rezultat din combinarea arsenului (1) cu acid azotic. – Din fr. arsenic, lat. arsenicum. Trimis de romac, 25.10.2007.… …   Dicționar Român

  • arsenic — ARSENIC. s. m. Demi métal qui a la propriété de se dissiper dans le feu sous la forme d une fumée dont l odeur est semblable à celle de l ail. On compte trois espèces d Arsenic, le blanc, le jaune et le rouge. L Arsenic blanc est pur, et a été… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • arsenic — [är′sə nik΄; ] for adj. [ är sen′ik] n. [ME < OFr < L arsenicum < Gr arsenikon, yellow orpiment; ult. (? via Syr zarnīk(ā)) < Iran * zarnīk, gold colored (> Pers zarnīq, arsenic); assoc. in Gr with arsenikos, strong, masculine] 1.… …   English World dictionary

  • arsenic — (n.) late 14c., from O.Fr. arsenic, from L. arsenicum, from late Gk. arsenikon arsenic (Dioscorides; Aristotle has it as sandarake), adapted from Syriac (al) zarniqa arsenic, from Middle Persian zarnik gold colored (arsenic trisulphide has a… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Arsenic — Ar*sen ic, a. (Chem.) Pertaining to, or derived from, arsenic; said of those compounds of arsenic in which this element has its highest equivalence; as, arsenic acid. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Arsenic — Ar se*nic ([aum]r s[ e]*n[i^]k; 277), n. [L. arsenicum, Gr. arseniko n, arreniko n, yellow orpiment, perh. fr. arseniko s or better Attic arreniko s masculine, a rrhn male, on account of its strength, or fr. Per. zern[=i]kh: cf. F. arsenic.] 1.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • arsenic — ARSENIC. s. m. Espece de mineral & de poison fort corrosif. On luy donna de l arsenic, il fut empoisonné avec de l arsenic …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • arsenic — arsenic; or·tho·arsenic; …   English syllables

  • arsenic — ARSENIC: Se trouve partout (rappeler Mme Lafarge). Cependant, il y a des peuples qui en mangent …   Dictionnaire des idées reçues

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