Arsenic is a naturally occurring mineral found in soil, bedrock, and water. In its pure form, arsenic is a silver-gray or white brittle metal. Arsenic has no odor and is almost tasteless. Arsenic and its compounds have a variety of commercial uses. Manufacturers use arsenic to make other metals, glass, electronic components, and wood preservatives.
Arsenic occurs naturally in some Wisconsin drinking water supplies. Drugs used to treat parasite diseases have contained arsenic.
Can a medical test determine exposure to arsenic?
Urine can be tested for arsenic up to a week after the exposure. Arsenic can also be measured in hair and fingernails within a few months of exposure. The results of arsenic urine tests may be misleading if you have eaten seafood, marine fish or ocean-derived vitamin supplements in the past five days.
If a person suspects high arsenic exposure, tests that monitor the functioning of the liver and kidneys should be done. These tests can be done by a doctor on blood samples.
Seek medical advice if you have any symptoms that you think may be related to chemical exposure.
(P-44587 Revised 8/2012)
This fact sheet summarizes information about this chemical and is not a complete listing of all possible effects. It does not refer to work exposure or emergency situations.