arsenic poisoning

Harmful effects of arsenic compounds (in pesticides, chemotherapy drugs, paints, etc.), most often from insecticide exposure.

Susceptibility varies. Arsenic is believed to combine with certain enzymes, interfering with cellular metabolism. Symptoms of acute arsenic poisoning include nausea and abdominal pain followed by circulatory collapse. Acute exposure to the gas arsine causes destruction of red blood cells and kidney damage; chronic exposure causes weakness, skin disorders, anemia, and nervous-system disorders. Arsenic in urine and hair or nails is the key to diagnosis. Treatment involves washing out the stomach and promptly administering the antidote dimercaprol.

* * *

      harmful effects of various arsenic compounds on body tissues and functions. Arsenicals are used in numerous products, including insect, rodent, and weed killers, some chemotherapeutic agents, and certain paints, wallpaper, and ceramics.

      Arsenic poisoning in humans most often results from the ingestion or inhalation of insecticides (insecticide) containing arsenious oxide, copper acetoarsenite, or calcium or lead arsenate. Exposure may be accidental, especially among children, or may be an occupational hazard, especially among agricultural workers handling insecticidal sprays and dusts. The sprayed fruits and vegetables, if not washed, may also bear enough arsenic to be potentially toxic to the consumer. Among industrial workers, arsine may be a source of accidental poisoning. Poisoning may also result from prolonged treatment with such medications as Fowler's solution (potassium arsenate) and arsphenamine.

       arsenic is believed to exert its toxicity by combining with certain enzymes (the organic catalysts of the cell), thereby interfering with cellular metabolism.

      Individual susceptibility to arsenic poisoning varies widely; some persons have been known to develop a tolerance to doses that would kill others. Poisoning may result from a single large dose (acute poisoning) or from repeated small doses (chronic poisoning). Symptoms of acute poisoning from swallowing arsenic include nausea, vomiting, burning of the mouth and throat, and severe abdominal pains. Circulatory collapse may occur and be followed by death within a few hours. In persons exposed to arsine, the outstanding effects are destruction of red blood cells and damage to the kidneys. With chronic exposure, the more common effects include gradual loss of strength; diarrhea or constipation; pigmentation and scaling of the skin, which may undergo malignant changes; nervous manifestations marked by paralysis and confusion; degeneration of fatty tissue; anemia; and the development of characteristic streaks across the fingernails. The criminal use of the colourless, tasteless compound arsenious oxide as a poison was common until chemical methods of detection were developed. Definitive diagnosis of arsenic poisoning is based on the finding of arsenic in the urine and in hair or nails.

      The treatment of acute arsenic poisoning involves washing out the stomach and the prompt administration of dimercaprol (BAL).

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • arsenic poisoning — poisoning due to systemic exposure to inorganic pentavalent arsenic. Acute arsenic poisoning, which may result in shock and death, is marked by erythematous skin eruptions, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, muscular cramps, and swelling of the… …   Medical dictionary

  • Arsenic poisoning — Infobox Disease Name = Arsenic poisoning Caption = DiseasesDB = ICD10 = ICD10|T|57|0|t|51 ICD9 = ICD9|985.1 ICDO = OMIM = MedlinePlus = eMedicineSubj = emerg eMedicineTopic = 42 MeshID = D020261 Arsenic poisoning kills by allosteric inhibition of …   Wikipedia

  • Arsenic — (pronEng|ˈɑrsənɪk) is a chemical element that has the symbol As and atomic number of 33. Arsenic was first documented by Albertus Magnus in 1250cite book |last=Emsley |first=John |title=Nature s Building Blocks: An A Z Guide to the Elements |year …   Wikipedia

  • Arsenic contamination of groundwater — is a natural occurring high concentration of arsenic in deeper levels of groundwater, which became a high profile problem in recent years due to the use of deep tubewells for water supply in the Ganges Delta, causing serious arsenic poisoning to… …   Wikipedia

  • Arsenic trioxide — Arsenic trioxide …   Wikipedia

  • Arsenic — Cet article possède un paronyme, voir : Ärsenik. Arsenic …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Arsenic — A metallic element that forms a number of poisonous compounds, arsenic is found in nature at low levels mostly in compounds with oxygen, chlorine, and sulfur. These are called inorganic arsenic compounds. Arsenic in plants and animals combines… …   Medical dictionary

  • arsenic — n. /ahr seuh nik, ahrs nik/; adj. /ahr sen ik/, n. 1. a grayish white element having a metallic luster, vaporizing when heated, and forming poisonous compounds. Symbol: As; at. wt.: 74.92; at. no.: 33. 2. See arsenic trioxide. 3. a mineral, the… …   Universalium

  • arsenic — n. a poisonous greyish metallic element producing the symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, cramps, convulsions, and coma when ingested in large doses. Drugs used as antidotes to arsenic poisoning include dimercaprol. Arsenic was formerly… …   The new mediacal dictionary

  • arsenic keratosis — arsenical keratosis a cutaneous manifestation of chronic arsenic poisoning, which may occur years after arsenic ingestion, characterized by development of discrete hyperkeratotic papules, usually on the palms or soles; sometimes it is associated… …   Medical dictionary


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.