What arsenic is and where it comes from:
The two forms of arsenic compounds:
- Organic arsenic is formed when arsenic combines with carbon and hydrogen.
- Inorganic arsenic occurs when arsenic combines with elements such as oxygen, chlorine and sulfur.
The toxicity of arsenic:
Common sources of arsenic exposure:
- Food: The average American adult takes in 50 milligrams of arsenic each day, with 80 percent of it coming from meat, fish and poultry. Some wines also contain noticeable levels of arsenic due to pesticides used in farming.
- Drinking water: Arsenic seeps into well water primarily via bedrock. Groundwater is sometimes contaminated by runoff from soil containing arsenic.
- Cigarette smoke: Arsenic-containing pesticides used in tobacco farming persist in small quantities in cigarette smoke.
Arsenic in cigarette smoke:
While research has yet to define the specific risks associated with arsenic in cigarette smoke, it's safe to say that inhaling this toxic chemical compound is hazardous to human health.
More on the chemicals in cigarette smoke:
Arsenic. 20 November, 2007. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry - U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.
Overall Evaluations of Carcinogenicity to Humans. 29 November, 2007. International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Inorganic Arsenic. May, 1990. California Air Resources Board and Department of Health Services.