Arsenic is a semimetal that forms a part of more than 200 minerals. In many places of the world concentrations of arsenic in water are high, which is an issue of high importance in connection with human health. It has three allotrope forms; the gray one is the most common. Among numerous arsenic isotopes only 75As is stable. The element is produced mainly in the form of a trioxide. Arsenic is used in electronic, metallurgy, pesticides, and defoliants. The most common use is in the production of wood preservatives (which, along with fossil fuel combustion, represents the largest anthropogenic arsenic source in the environment). In some parts of the world arsenic compounds are used as a supplement in poultry farming. Recent research also shows its potential use in medicine. Arsenic toxicity depends on its form (organic and inorganic), as well as on its oxidation state, solubility, and species exposed. In the body, the methylation of its inorganic form takes place mainly in the liver. Following exposure to arsenic, it can be found in various tissues, organs and materials, as kidneys, blood, lungs, feathers, hair, and fur, but mainly in the liver. Arsenic bioaccumulation is low, and biomagnification is still questioned in terrestrial ecosystems. Some biomarkers of exposure, apart from concentration measurements (especially in urine, blood, hair, fur, and feathers) may be used. Among internal tissues, the liver is the most commonly studied.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of BiologyPedagogical University of CracowKrakówPoland

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