MAIN SOURCES :
Smelting and microelectronics industries; wood preservatives, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides; contaminant of deep-water wells; folk remedies; and coal; incineration of these products
Organic arsenic (arsenobentaine, arsenocholine) is ingested in seafood and fish, but is nontoxic; inorganic arsenic is readily absorbed (lung and GI); sequesters in liver, spleen, kidneys, lungs, and GI tract; residues persist in skin, hair, and nails; biomethylation results in detoxification, but this process saturates.
Acute arsenic poisoning results in necrosis of intestinal mucosa with hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, fluid loss, hypotension, delayed cardiomyopathy, acute tubular necrosis, and hemolysis.
Chronic arsenic exposure causes diabetes, vasospasm, peripheral vascular insufficiency and gangrene, peripheral neuropathy, and cancer of skin, lung, liver (angiosarcoma), bladder, kidney.
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, delirium, coma, seizures; garlicky odor on breath; hyperkeratosis, hyperpigmentation, exfoliative dermatitis, and Mees' lines (transverse white striae of the fingernails); sensory and motor polyneuritis, distal weakness. Radiopaque sign on abdominal x-ray; ECG–QRS broadening, QT prolongation, ST depression, T-wave flattening; 24-h urinary arsenic >67 micromoles/day; (no seafood x 24 h); if recent exposure, serum arsenic >0.9 micromoles/L ( 7 micrograms/dL) . High arsenic in hair or nails .
If acute ingestion, ipecac to induce vomiting, gastric lavage, activated charcoal with a cathartic. Supportive care in ICU.