Everything About Arsenic You Need To Know

Few interesting things about Arsenic you didn't know

Everything About Arsenic

Arsenic and its properties:

  • Arsenic is a chemical compound with atomic number 33 and symbolised as “As”.

  • Arsenic is a metalloid with various allotropes, the common one are yellow, black and metallic gray, but industries use only gray part the most.

  • It has metallic grey appearance.

  • It is the element of group 15 in p-block. Arsenic is of group called pnictogens.

  • It has boiling point of 614 degree Celsius and melting point of 817 degree Celsius.

  • Arsenic is insoluble and it has density of 5.72 g/cm3.

  • Arsenic composes of only one stable isotope and occurs as monoisotopic element in nature.

History and etymology:

Arsenic is known from as earlier as 4th century B.C. The pure arsenic was isolated officially by a German alchemist and a philosopher, Albert Magnus in 1250. Earlier arsenic was added to bronze for increasing its hardness, used as a colourful pigment and in medicines. The word arsenic has its origin from the Persian word zarnikh meaning “yellow”, Greek word arsenikon meaning “masculine”. The Latin word for arsenic is “arsenicum”.

Arsenic Occurrence:

Arsenic is 53rd most plentiful element and earth’s crust comprises of about 1.5 ppm arsenic. It occurs in pure crystalline form in the nature. Arsenic occurs in organic as well as in inorganic forms in the surroundings. Arsenic occurs in minerals like realgar, orpiment and arsenopyrite. China is the top manufacturer of Arsenic followed by Morocco, Russia.

Arsenic applications:

Agricultural use:

It is used as a wood preservative because of its toxicity. Earlier it was used as crop pesticide and for making rodent poison, but in 1980s all these pesticides got banned when government and farmers realized that is was a terrible idea. It is used as feed additive in poultry and production of swine.

Medical use:

Number of arsenics has been used as a medicine during 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Arsenic trioxide is used in the treatment of cancer over the 500 years. It used for the treatment of patients having acute promyeloctic leukaemia.


The essential use of arsenic is in lead alloying. In car batteries lead components are given strength by very small percentage of arsenic used. In integrated circuits gallium arsenide is an important semiconductor material. Brass dezincification is reduced by adding arsenic.

Arsenic poisoning:

Arsenic poisoning is a medical situation that occurs in the body due to exalted level of arsenics. The most familiar reason behind exposure of arsenic is contaminated drinking water. Most cases of poisoning by arsenic are accidental. Diagnosis is done by testing urine, blood and hairs.


  • Drinking water: Chronic arsenic poisoning results out of well water contamination over a long period of time.

  • Occupational exposures: It is seldom used in western world because of its toxicity, but in Asia it is a famous pesticide. Occupationally, arsenic is majorly encountered at the time of smelting copper and zinc ores.

  • Food: Rice is founded to be the particular susceptible to arsenic accumulation from soils.

Symptoms: Symptoms begins with headaches, confusion, and drowsiness. Pain in the abdomen, cramps and shock in muscles, other symptoms are diarrhea, numbness feeling in toes and fingers.


  • Chelation: For sequestering arsenic out of blood proteins Dimercaprol and dimercaptosuccinic acid which are chelating acids are used. The important side effect of this acid is hypertension.

  • Nutrition: Potassium supplement reduces the risk of heart rhythm problem from arsenic trioxide.

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