Arsenic is a semi-metallic material, often grouped
with the toxic metals. Compounds containing arsenic were used as
long ago as Roman times and the Middle Ages as a poison in murders
and suicides. Prior to the development of synthetic organic chemicals,
arsenic was used as a pesticide and it still serves this purpose
in parts of the world.
Arsenic can be released during the mining and
smelting of metals (gold, lead, copper, and nickel), in the production
of iron and steel, and in coal combustion. Hazardous waste dumps
also may serve as a site for arsenic exposure. Arsenic also occurs
naturally in some soil, rocks and water (see EXPLORE). Chronic
exposure to arsenic can cause skin disease and cancer, while acute
exposure can cause lung distress and death.
water in India
contains large concentrations of arsenic.
Arsenic-Treated Wood Controversy