Agent Name
Alternative Name
Arsenic and inorganic compounds
CAS Number
7440-38-2; varies
As, varies
Major Category
Arsenite (trivalent); Arsenate (pentavalent); Organic arsenics include arsanilic acid, methylarsonic acid, dimethylarsenic acid, and arsenobetaine; [Sullivan, p. 858]
Arsenic Compounds, Inorganic
Metal: Silver-gray or tin-white, brittle, odorless solid; [NIOSH]
MINING OR SMELTING: Smelt lead, copper, zinc, cobalt, nickel, or gold; Harden copper and lead; MANUFACTURING: Pesticides (sheep dips, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, algicides, wood preservatives, cotton desiccants); Lead-arsenic alloys for solder, battery grids, or cable shielding; Electronics (microwave devices, lasers, light-emitting diodes, photoelectric cells, semiconductors); Clarified glass or ceramics; Pigments; USING OR DISPOSING: Clean fossil fuel furnaces, flues, or boilers; Sand or burn arsenic-treated wood; Lead arsenate, calcium arsenate, and sodium arsenite have been used as pesticides;
Except for the electronics industry, the commercial use of arsenic is declining. Skin lesions, peripheral neuropathy, and anemia are the hallmarks of chronic poisoning. Chronic exposure is associated with lung, liver, and skin cancer. Liver function tests may be abnormal after chronic poisoning. Nasal septum perforation after dust exposure in the workplace was reported in the past. Encephalopathy, after both acute and chronic exposure, has been reported. In chronic toxicity, the kidney is not a major target organ. [ATSDR Case Studies: Arsenic Toxicity] The evidence that arsenic is a skin and lung occupational carcinogen is strong. The evidence for liver cancer (angiosarcoma) is suggestive. [Siemiatycki, p. 326] "Incrimination of arsenic toxicity in noncirrhotic portal hypertension (i.e., hepatoportal sclerosis) is convincing. The multiple cases that have been reported for patients treated with arsenical preparations and the epidemiologic association of noncirrhotic portal hypertension with intake of arsenic-contaminated drinking water are strongly suggestive." [Zimmerman, p. 420] There is limited positive data for arsenic causing spontaneous abortions in humans and strong positive data for causing testicular damage, birth defects, and fetal loss in animals. [ATSDR Case Studies #29] Arsenic salts are irritants, but can be skin sensitizers. [Kanerva, p. 1753] In order of decreasing toxicity are inorganic trivalent, organic trivalent, inorganic pentavalent, and organic pentavalent compounds. [Sullivan, p. 858] Elemental arsenic is rare in nature and rarely encountered as a toxic substance. [LaDou, p. 464] Ingestion of 100-300 mg soluble trivalent arsenic such as sodium arsenite can cause fatal hemorrhagic gastroenteritis and shock. [Olson, p. 141] Effects of arsenic poisoning after ingestion may include shock and acute renal failure. [Sullivan, p. 861] See "Arsenic Exposure, Assessment, Toxicity, Diagnosis, and Management." [PMID 30358658] See the disease, "Arsenic, chronic toxic effect."
EPA regulates copper smelters, glass manufacturing emissions, and drinking water. Inorganic arsenic no longer used in agriculture in the U.S. [ATSDR ToxFAQs] Arsenic-treated lumber for residential use voluntarily banned in 2003; [Olson, p. 140]
Biomedical References

Exposure Assessment

Arsenic (soluble inorganic compounds plus methylated metabolites): 15 ug/g creatinine in urine at end of shift and end of workweek); Excludes gallium arsenide and arsine; [ACGIH TLVs and BEIs]
Skin Designation (ACGIH)
Insufficient data
0.01 mg/m3, as As (metal, inorganic compds except arsine)
0.01 mg/m3, as As (inorganic compds except arsine), 0.5 mg/m3, as As(organic compds)
5 mg/m3, as As (metal, inorganic compds except arsine)
Excerpts from Documentation for IDLHs
Basis for revised IDLH: The revised IDLH for inorganic arsenic compounds is 5 mg As/m3 based on acute inhalation toxicity data in animals [Flury 1921; Spector 1955]. This may be a conservative value due to the lack of relevant acute toxicity data for workers.
Explanatory Notes
Melting Point = 1135 degrees F (Sublimes); See 2023 "Notice of Intended Changes" for BEI (Arsenic and soluble inorganic compounds); [ACGIH TLVs and BEIs]
Half Life
Whole body (inorganic): 5 days; whole body (organic): 4 days; [TDR, p. 118] Inorganic arsenic half-life = 24-36 hours in humans; [ACGIH]
Reference Link #2

Adverse Effects

Aplastic anemia
Hepatoxic (a) from occupational exposure (secondary effect) or (b) in animal studies or in humans after ingestion
Reproductive Toxin
IARC Carcinogen
NTP Carcinogen
Human carcinogen
ACGIH Carcinogen
Confirmed Human

Diseases, Processes, and Activities Linked to This Agent


Occupational diseases associated with exposure to this agent: