Q:

Where does arsenic come from?

A:

Arsenic occurs naturally in the environment and is often found within the Earth's crust, extending its presence into soil, water and rock. Arsenic is also forced into the air during certain chemical processes, causing environmental contamination. Arsenic is a poisonous substance, classified as a metalloid.

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Because of the location of arsenic in geological formations, the contamination of ground water and drinking water is often a concern. This is especially common in non-urban areas that contain wells for drinking. Arsenic is poisonous to any multi-cellular organism, including humans.

Because of its damaging properties, it is often used in pesticides and poisons to exterminate unwanted pests. Arsenic has other uses, such as being an ingredient in car batteries and the strengthening of copper alloys.

Arsenic is the 53rd most abundant material found within the Earth's crust, and common soil contains roughly 1 to 10 parts per million of arsenic. This metalloid is commercially produced in some countries, such as China, Chile and Morocco. The mass production of arsenic in standardized cultures, such as the United States and Europe, has primarily ceased because of the poisonous effects of the toxin.

Many mystery novels pay an homage to arsenic, as it was widely used as a murder weapon before science was able to detect its traces in a cadaver.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How reactive is arsenic?

    A:

    Arsenic is not particularly reactive though yellow arsenic is the most reactive and reacts with halogens under controlled conditions, fluorine and slowly with air (oxidization only). Arsenic does not react with water and is not explosive.

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  • Q:

    What does arsenic look like?

    A:

    Arsenic is a gray or yellow crystalline that often looks like a jagged rock when it is in its natural state. It is typically somewhat shiny, resembling silver.

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  • Q:

    Where does ricin come from?

    A:

    Ricin comes from the castor bean plant, scientifically called Ricinus communis. The substance originates mainly in the bean but can be found in lesser amounts in other parts of the plant. Ricin is a toxin that causes death by interfering with the protein-making parts of cells.

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  • Q:

    Where does fluoride come from?

    A:

    Fluoride is a chemical ion of the element fluorine found in abundance on the Earth’s crust. Fluoride is the 13th most plentiful element. Fluoride is found naturally in soil, water and foods. Minerals like fluorapatite and fluorite also contain fluoride.

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