Skip to content

What is Arsenic?

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element that when combined with inorganic or organic substances, can form different compounds. Inorganic arsenic can be highly toxic and can be found within soils, sediments, and groundwater.


Inorganic Arsenic Exposure

People are most often
exposed to inorganic arsenic through:

  • Drinking water
  • Rice
  • Some fruit juices
  • Contaminated soil or dust
  • Wood preserved with arsenic compounds

Health Effects of Inorganic Arsenic

According to the World Health Organization Inorganic Arsenic is a confirmed carcinogen and is the most significant chemical in drinking water globally.

Immediate symptoms/effects of acute arsenic poisoning include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Numbness and tingling in extremities
  • Muscle cramping
  • Death (in extreme cases)

Long-term symptoms/effects of arsenic poisoning:


  • Skin pigmentation changes
  • Skin lesions
  • Hard patches on the palms and soles of feet


  • Skin cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Developmental effects
  • Diabetes
  • Pulmonary disease
  • Cardiovascular disease

Reducing Your Exposure to Arsenic

Click here to learn about how to reduce your exposure to Arsenic.

For more in-depth information on arsenic and its health effects visit the websites linked below:

WHO info

CDC info