Arsenic Poisoning: Symptoms And Causes

arsenic poisoning ppt

Arsenic poisoning is also known as arsenicosis. It happens after the indigestion or inhalation of high levels of arsenic. Arsenic is a type of carcinogen which is white, silver or gray in color. It is extremely poisonous for humans. The arsenic does not have a taste or odor, so you can be exposed to it without knowing it and this makes it very dangerous. Arsenic is naturally occurring element, but also, it comes in inorganic formulas. They are used in manufacturing, mining and agriculture. The arsenic poisoning tends to happen most often in areas of industrialization, whether you live or work there. Mexico, China, India and United States are countries that have high levels of arsenic – containing groundwater [1].

The short – term exposure to arsenic poisoning can cause unpleasant symptoms, but the outlook remains good overall. But, the most serious problems tend to happen from the exposure to arsenic over long periods of time. This can happen from breathing contaminants on a regular basis, eating contaminants on regular basis or as a result of daily job. The ground water continues to be the most common cause for arsenic poisoning [1]. You should be sure that you are drinking clean and filtered water, because this is one of the most effective preventive measures against the arsenic poisoning.

Also, you should be sure that all foods are prepared in clean water, so you will prevent the arsenic poisoning. If you work in some industry that uses arsenic, then you should take extra precautions. You should bring your own water from home and wear a mask to reduce the accidental arsenic inhalation. When you are traveling, you should drink bottled water only.

arsenic poisoning murders


Arsenic poisoning symptoms

The most common symptoms of arsenic poisoning include [1]:

  • Tingling of fingers and toes
  • Red or swollen skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • Skin changes, such as new warts or lesions
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting

The long – term exposure to arsenic can cause more severe symptoms. If you experience persistent digestive issues, constant sore throat or darkening skin, then you should seek emergency help. The long – term symptoms tend to happen in the skin first and they can show up within 5 years of exposure. Also, the cases of extreme arsenic poisoning can lead to death. Your doctor will make you tests, so he or she will be sure that you have arsenic poisoning.

There is no specific treatment for the arsenic poisoning, so the best way of eliminating it is to eliminate the arsenic exposure. The full recovery may not happen for weeks or months, because this depends on how long you have been exposed to the arsenic.

Arsenic poisoning causes

The most common cause for arsenic poisoning is the contaminated water. The arsenic is already present in the earth and it can seep into the groundwater. Also, the groundwater can contain runoff from the industrial plants. If you drink arsenic – laden water over a long period of time, then it could lead to poisoning. Also, there can be other possible causes for arsenic poisoning, such as

  • Being exposed to landfill or waste sites [2]
  • Breathing air that contains arsenic [3]
  • Eating arsenic – contaminated foods (this is not common in the United States, but some animal and seafood products can have small levels of arsenic) [4]
  • Breathing in dust or smoke from the wood or waste that was previously treated with arsenic [3]
  • Smoking tobacco products [5]
  • Living near industrialized areas [6]
  • Breathing contaminated air from plants or mines that use arsenic


The long – term exposure to arsenic could lead to cancer [7]. The most common types of arsenic – related cancers are associated with the:

  • Skin
  • Bladder
  • Prostate
  • Blood
  • Kidneys
  • Digestive system
  • Lungs
  • Liver
  • Lymphatic system

Also, the arsenic poisoning can lead to other health complications. Neurotoxicity, heart disease and diabetes are possible after prolonged exposure. If pregnant women are affected by the arsenic poisoning, then this could lead to birth defects after delivery or fetal complications. The developmental effects can happen in children who regularly are exposed to arsenic.


[1] Kapaj S, Peterson H, Liber K, Bhattacharya P. Human health effects from chronic arsenic poisoning– A review. Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part A. 2006;41:2399–428. doi:10.1080/10934520600873571

[2] Tchounwou PB, Yedjou CG, Udensi UK, et al. State of the science review of the health effects of inorganic arsenic: perspectives for future research. Environmental Toxicology. 2019;34(2):188–202.

[3] Chung JY, Yu SD, Hong YS. Environmental source of arsenic exposure. Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health. 2014;47(5):253–7. doi:10.3961/jpmph.14.036

[4] World Health Organization. Arsenic. 2018. Retrieved from

[5] Campbell RCJ, Stephens E, Meharg AA. Consistency of arsenic speciation in global tobacco products with implications for health and regulation. Tobacco Induced Diseases. 2014;12(1):24. doi:10.1186/s12971-014-0024-5

[6] Chen G, Shi H, Tao J, et al. Industrial arsenic contamination causes catastrophic changes in freshwater ecosystems. Scientific Reports. 2015;5.

[7] National Cancer Institute. Arsenic. Retrieved from


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