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About arsenic poisoning

What is arsenic poisoning?

What is arsenic?

Arsenic is a grey-appearing chemical element (atomic number 33, symbol As in the periodic table) also termed a metalloid. Arsenic can exist in a metallic state in three forms (yellow, , and gray; with gray predominating) and in ionic forms. Arsenic is considered to be a heavy metal, and arsenic toxicity shares some features with poisonings by other heavy metals. Historically, arsenic has been used as a medicinal agent, a pigment, a pesticide, and an agent with intent to harm (use with criminal intent). Up until 2003, arsenic (in the form of chromated copper arsenate) was used in the US as a treatment to prevent insect infestation of wood used in building. In 2003 the use of this compound was banned by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Arsenic is mixed with copper or lead to strengthen alloys containing these materials. Arsenic and some of its compounds react with proteins, mainly the thiol portions, and uncouples the process of oxidative phosphorylation, thus inactivating most cellular functions. Consequently, arsenic and some of the substances it combines with are deadly poisons to most biologic systems, except for a few bacterial species. Arsenic is used in making insecticides and weed killers. Arsenic is also thought to be carcinogenic, meaning that it has the potential to cause cancer.

Arsenic can be found as a contaminant in food and water sources. Shellfish and other seafood, as well as fruits, vegetables, and rice; are the foods most commonly contaminated. Arsenic poisoning typically occurs as a result of industrial exposure, from contaminated wine or illegally distilled spirits, or in cases of malicious intent.

What is inorganic arsenic?

Inorganic arsenic is metallic or a metalloid element that forms a number of poisonous compounds. In industry, it can be found in a gaseous form termed arsine gas that is very toxic when inhaled. Inorganic arsenic is found in nature at low levels mostly compounded with oxygen, chlorine, and sulfur. These are called inorganic arsenic compounds. Inorganic arsenic compounds are much more poisonous to most biologic systems (animals, plants, humans) than organic arsenic (see below). Inorganic arsenic occurs in nature in the soil, copper and lead ore deposits, and water, but usually in low concentrations. However, it can become more concentrated when industrial processes use it to make wood preservatives, metal compounds, or organic arsenic-containing compounds such as insecticides, weed killers, and other compounds. If such compounds are burned, inorganic arsenic can be released into the air and later settle on the ground or in water and either remain in the inorganic form or combine with organic material.

What is organic arsenic?

Organic arsenic is any compound that is made from a chemical combination of the element arsenic with any organic compound (compounds containing a large amount of carbon). These are often termed arsenical organic compounds. Most frequently organic arsenic is a component used in making insecticides and weed killers and other compounds. Organic arsenic usually is not poisonous to humans but may be poisonous to humans in high concentrations. In general, organic arsenic is usually far less poisonous than inorganic arsenic.

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Long-term exposures to arsenic lower than toxic levels can lead to skin changes (darkening or discoloration, redness, swelling and hyperkeratosis (skin bumps that resemble corns or warts). Whitish lines (Mees' lines) may appear in the fingernails. Both sensory and motor nerve defects can develop. Additionally, liver and kidney function may be affected.

Arsenic exposure over the long-term has also been associated with the development of certain cancers, and arsenic has been classified as a carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Studies of people in parts of Southeast Asia and South America where there has been a high level of arsenic in the drinking water have reported an increased risk of developing cancers of the bladder, kidney, lung, and skin. Organic arsenic compounds are not as toxic as inorganic compounds and are not believed to be linked to cancer.

What are the symptoms for arsenic poisoning?

Lymphatic system symptom was found in the arsenic poisoning condition

Symptoms of arsenic poisoning may include:

Long-term exposure to arsenic can cause more severe symptoms. You should seek emergency help if you experience any of the following after a suspected arsenic exposure:

  • darkening skin
  • constant sore throat
  • persistent digestive issues

According to the World Health Organization, long-term symptoms tend to occur in the skin first, and can show up within five years of exposure. Cases of extreme poisoning may lead to death.

What are the causes for arsenic poisoning?

Contaminated groundwater is the most common cause of arsenic poisoning. Arsenic is already present in the earth and can seep into groundwater. Also, groundwater can contain runoff from industrial plants. Drinking arsenic-laden water over a long period of time can lead to poisoning.

Other possible causes of arsenic poisoning can include:

  • breathing air that contains arsenic
  • smoking tobacco products
  • breathing contaminated air from plants or mines that use arsenic
  • living near industrialized areas
  • being exposed to landfill or waste sites
  • breathing in smoke or dust from wood or waste that was previously treated with arsenic
  • eating arsenic-contaminated food — this isn’t common in the United States, but some seafood and animal products may contain small levels of arsenic

What are the treatments for arsenic poisoning?

There’s no specific method used to treat arsenic poisoning. The best way to treat the condition is to eliminate arsenic exposure. Full recovery may not happen for weeks or months. It all depends on how long you’ve been exposed. The severity of your symptoms can also play a role.

Vitamin E and selenium supplements have been used as alternative remedies to limit the effects of arsenic exposure. It’s thought that these substances cancel each other out. Still, more human studies are needed to support vitamin E and selenium as viable treatment methods.

What are the risk factors for arsenic poisoning?

Arsenic is mixed with copper or lead to strengthen alloys containing these materials. Arsenic and some of its compounds react with proteins, mainly the thiol portions, and uncouples the process of oxidative phosphorylation, thus inactivating most cellular functions. Consequently, arsenic and some of the substances it combines with are deadly poisons to most biologic systems, except for a few bacterial species. Arsenic is used in making insecticides and weed killers. Arsenic is also thought to be carcinogenic, meaning that it has the potential to cause cancer.

Arsenic can be found as a contaminant in food and water sources. Shellfish and other seafood, as well as fruits, vegetables, and rice; are the foods most commonly contaminated. Arsenic poisoning typically occurs as a result of industrial exposure, from contaminated wine or illegally distilled spirits, or in cases of malicious intent.

Is there a cure/medications for arsenic poisoning?

Arsenic is a natural semi-metallic chemical that is usually found in groundwater across the world. Arsenic poisoning, also known as arsenicosis occurs when a person inhales, swallows, or absorbs a high level of arsenic. When left untreated, arsenic poisoning will cause severe health complications. The earlier you diagnose the condition, the better will be the outlook.
Short-term arsenic poisoning may cause unpleasant symptoms but can be cured. In most situations, acute toxic inorganic arsenic exposure will immediately result in death.

However, certain treatments can aid in saving the patient’s life, including,

  • Hemodialysis – This process can eliminate the arsenic from the bloodstream before it gets attached to the tissues.
  • Blood transfusion - If the arsenic gets binds to the tissues, it will result in rapid red blood cell destruction. Hence, blood transfusions will be suggested to help the patient.
  • Bowel Irrigation - Alternatively, if the arsenic is ingested, the patient will be attempted stomach or bowel irrigation. A solution will be passed through the gastrointestinal tract, to flush out the harmful content and prevent them from getting absorbed into the gut.
  • Chelation therapy – It is the process that involves the utilization of chelation drugs such as Dimercaprol that specifically bind and inactivate the arsenic gas, eliminating it through the urine. The treatment is done through an intravenous line.


Conditions
Diabetes,Heart disease,Neurotoxicity,Birth defects,Cancers associated with bladder,Blood,Prostate,Ksin,Lymphatic system,etc
Drugs
Dimercaptosuccinic acid,Dimercaprol
Symptoms
Drowsiness,Headaches,Confusion,Severe diarrhoea,Vomiting,Cramping muscles,Hair loss,Convulsions,Excessive sweating,Blood in the urine,Metallic taste in the mouth

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