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Record Information
Creation Date2009-03-06 18:57:53 UTC
Update Date2017-04-05 17:31:07 UTC
Accession NumberCHEM000001
Common NameArsenic
ClassSmall Molecule
DescriptionArsenic(As) is a ubiquitous metalloid found in several forms in food and the environment, such as the soil, air and water. Physiologically, it exists as an ion in the body. The predominant form is inorganic arsenic in drinking water, which is both highly toxic and carcinogenic and rapidly bioavailable. Arsenic is currently one of the most important environmental global contaminants and toxicants, particularly in the developing countries. For decades, very large populations have been and are currently still exposed to inorganic Arsenic through geogenically contaminated drinking water. An increased incidence of disease mediated by this toxicant is the consequence of long-term exposure. In human's chronic ingestion of inorganic arsenic (> 500 mg/L As) has been associated with cardiovascular, nervous, hepatic and renal diseases and diabetes mellitus as well as cancer of the skin, bladder, lung, liver and prostate. Contrary to the earlier view that methylated compounds are innocuous, the methylated metabolites are now recognized to be both toxic and carcinogenic, possibly due to genotoxicity, inhibition of antioxidative enzyme functions, or other mechanisms. Arsenic inhibits indirectly sulfhydryl containing enzymes and interferes with cellular metabolism. Effects involve such phenomena as cytotoxicity, genotoxicity and inhibition of enzymes with antioxidant function. These are all related to nutritional factors directly or indirectly. Nutritional studies both in experimental and epidemiological studies provide convincing evidence that nutritional intervention, including chemoprevention, offers a pragmatic approach to mitigate the health effects of arsenic exposure, particularly cancer, in the relatively resource-poor developing countries. Nutritional intervention, especially with micronutrients, many of which are antioxidants and share the same pathway with Arsenic , appears a host defence against the health effects of arsenic contamination in developing countries and should be embraced as it is pragmatic and inexpensive. (5, 6).
Contaminant Sources
  • Clean Air Act Chemicals
  • FooDB Chemicals
  • HMDB Contaminants - Urine
  • HPV EPA Chemicals
  • IARC Carcinogens Group 1
  • T3DB toxins
  • Tobacco Smoke Compounds
Contaminant Type
  • Arsenic Compound
  • Cigarette Toxin
  • Food Toxin
  • Household Toxin
  • Inorganic Compound
  • Metabolite
  • Metal
  • Metalloid
  • Natural Compound
  • Pesticide
  • Pollutant
Chemical Structure
Arsenic blackHMDB
Arsenic elementalHMDB
Grey arsenicHMDB
Metallic arsenicHMDB
Chemical FormulaAs
Average Molecular Mass74.922 g/mol
Monoisotopic Mass74.922 g/mol
CAS Registry Number7440-38-2
IUPAC Namearsenic(3+) ion
Traditional Namearsenic(3+) ion
InChI IdentifierInChI=1S/As/q+3
Chemical Taxonomy
Description belongs to the class of inorganic compounds known as homogeneous metalloid compounds. These are inorganic compounds containing only metal atoms,with the largest atom being a metalloid atom.
KingdomInorganic compounds
Super ClassHomogeneous metal compounds
ClassHomogeneous metalloid compounds
Sub ClassNot Available
Direct ParentHomogeneous metalloid compounds
Alternative ParentsNot Available
  • Homogeneous metalloid
Molecular FrameworkNot Available
External Descriptors
Biological Properties
StatusDetected and Not Quantified
Cellular Locations
  • Cytoplasm
  • Extracellular
Biofluid LocationsNot Available
Tissue LocationsNot Available
PathwaysNot Available
ApplicationsNot Available
Biological Roles
Chemical RolesNot Available
Physical Properties
AppearanceGrey metallic solid.
Experimental Properties
Melting Point> 615°C
Boiling Point614 °C
SolubilityNot Available
Predicted Properties
Physiological Charge3ChemAxon
Hydrogen Acceptor Count0ChemAxon
Hydrogen Donor Count0ChemAxon
Polar Surface Area0 ŲChemAxon
Rotatable Bond Count0ChemAxon
Refractivity0 m³·mol⁻¹ChemAxon
Polarizability1.78 ųChemAxon
Number of Rings0ChemAxon
Rule of FiveYesChemAxon
Ghose FilterYesChemAxon
Veber's RuleYesChemAxon
MDDR-like RuleYesChemAxon
Spectrum TypeDescriptionSplash Key
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 10V, Positivesplash10-001i-9000000000-6183cd0482f342082392View in MoNA
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 20V, Positivesplash10-001i-9000000000-6183cd0482f342082392View in MoNA
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 40V, Positivesplash10-001i-9000000000-6183cd0482f342082392View in MoNA
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 10V, Negativesplash10-004i-9000000000-30fac8ea879bd5e34966View in MoNA
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 20V, Negativesplash10-004i-9000000000-30fac8ea879bd5e34966View in MoNA
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 40V, Negativesplash10-004i-9000000000-30fac8ea879bd5e34966View in MoNA
Toxicity Profile
Route of ExposureOral (11); inhalation (11); dermal (11)
Mechanism of ToxicityArsenic and its metabolites disrupt ATP production through several mechanisms. At the level of the citric acid cycle, arsenic inhibits pyruvate dehydrogenase and by competing with phosphate it uncouples oxidative phosphorylation, thus inhibiting energy-linked reduction of NAD+, mitochondrial respiration, and ATP synthesis. Hydrogen peroxide production is also increased, which might form reactive oxygen species and oxidative stress. Arsenic's carcinogenicity is influenced by the arsenical binding of tubulin, which results in aneuploidy, polyploidy and mitotic arrests. The binding of other arsenic protein targets may also cause altered DNA repair enzyme activity, altered DNA methylation patterns and cell proliferation. (7, 4)
MetabolismArsenic is absorbed mainly by inhalation or ingestion, as to a lesser extent, dermal exposure. It is then distributed throughout the body, where it is reduced into arsenite if necessary, then methylated into monomethylarsenic (MMA) and dimethylarsenic acid (DMA) by arsenite methyltransferase. Arsenic and its metabolites are primarily excreted in the urine. Arsenic is known to induce the metal-binding protein metallothionein, which decreases the toxic effects of arsenic and other metals by binding them and making them biologically inactive, as well as acting as an antioxidant. (12)
Toxicity ValuesLD50: 763 mg/kg (Oral, Rat) (9) LD50: 13.4 ug/kg (Intraperitoneal, Rat) (9)
Lethal Dose130 mg for an adult human. (10)
Carcinogenicity (IARC Classification)1, carcinogenic to humans. (15)
Uses/SourcesArsenic is used in pesticides, wood preservatives, paints/pigments, and various metal alloys (electronics). Small amounts of arensic can be found in contaminated air, water, and some meat products, especially seafood. (11)
Minimum Risk LevelAcute Oral: 0.005 mg/kg/day (14) Chronic Oral: 0.0003 mg/kg/day (14) Chronic Inhalation: 0.01 mg/m3 (14) The World Health Organization asserts that a level of 0.01 mg/L in drinking water poses a risk of 1/1600 chance of lifetime skin cancer risk.
Health EffectsArsenic poisoning can lead to death from multi-system organ failure, probably from necrotic cell death, not apoptosis. Arsenic is also a known carcinogen, especially in skin, liver, bladder and lung cancers. (7, 12) Arsenic poisoning is has also been associated with heart disease, (hypertension related cardiovascular), stroke (cerebrovascular diseases), chronic lower respiratory diseases and diabetes. Chronic exposure to arsenic can lead to a vitamin A deficiency which is related to heart disease and night blindness.
SymptomsExposure to lower levels of arsenic can cause nausea and vomiting, decreased production of red and white blood cells, abnormal heart rhythm, damage to blood vessels, and a sensation of “pins and needles” in hands and feet. Breathing high levels of inorganic arsenic can give you a sore throat or irritated lungs. Arsenic also affects the brain, causing neurological disturbances such as headaches, confusion, and drowsiness. (1)
TreatmentArsenic poisoning can be treated by chelation therapy, using chelating agents such as dimercaprol, EDTA or DMSA. Charcoal tablets may also be used for less severe cases. In addition, maintaining a diet high in sulfur helps eliminate arsenic from the body. (12)
Not Available
DrugBank IDNot Available
FooDB IDFDB003763
Phenol Explorer IDNot Available
KNApSAcK IDNot Available
BiGG IDNot Available
BioCyc IDNot Available
METLIN IDNot Available
PDB IDNot Available
Wikipedia LinkArsenic
Chemspider ID94549
ChEBI ID35828
PubChem Compound ID104734
Kegg Compound IDC06269
YMDB IDNot Available
ECMDB IDNot Available
Synthesis ReferenceNot Available
General References
1. Tanmoy Rana et al. Contribution of arsenic from agricultural food chain to cow milk in highly arsenic prone zone in Nadia District of West Bengal in India.The Internet Journal of Veterinary Medicine Vol 4(2)
2. A. Foroutan et al. The Chemical Composition of Commercial Cow's Milk (in preparation)
3. Patricia Cava-Montesinos, M. Luisa Cervera Agustín Pastor Miguel de la Guardia. 2005. Room temperature acid sonication ICP-MS multielemental analysis of milk.Analytica Chimica Acta Volume 531, Issue 1, Pages 111-123
4. Z. Dobrzański, R. Kołacz, H. Górecka, K. Chojnacka, A. Bartkowiak. 2005. The Content of Microelements and Trace Elements in Raw Milk from Cows in the Silesian Region. Pol. J. Environ. Stud. 14(5):685–689
5. Anetor JI, Wanibuchi H, Fukushima S: Arsenic exposure and its health effects and risk of cancer in developing countries: micronutrients as host defence. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2007 Jan-Mar;8(1):13-23.
6. Jones FT: A broad view of arsenic. Poult Sci. 2007 Jan;86(1):2-14.