Pure arsenic is a grey-coloured metal. It has a crystalline appearance and is odourless. Arsenic is usually found combined with one or more other substances such as oxygen, chlorine and sulphur. Arsenic compounds are naturally present in the environment at low levels.
Common name: Arsenic, As.
Arsenic is used in wood preservatives, glass and non-ferrous alloys. The former use in agricultural products (including pesticides) is today banned in almost all western countries. Arsenic is also used in bronzing and pyrotechnics.
Releases to the environment
Major man-made arsenic releases are produced primarily as a by-product from the operation of copper, zinc and lead smelters. A second important emission source is the combustion of coal. Drainage water from mines (including disused mines) can be a significant source of arsenic pollution in groundwater. Arsenic compounds are naturally present in the environment at low levels.
Impacts on the environment and human health
Excessive exposure to arsenic can lead to health effects on the digestive and central nervous system, heart and kidneys and some of its compounds may cause cancer and genetic damage. Arsenic is also toxic to aquatic live.
Arsenic and its compounds are listed as priority hazardous substance in of the EU Water Framework Directive and in the Basel Convention controlling the transboundary movements of hazardous wastes. Furthermore arsenic is on the EU-Commissions EPER list and listed in the PRTR Protocol under the Århus Convention.
CAS NO: 7440-38-2.