Describe the signs and symptoms of arsenic poisoning in a case with which you are familiar.
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What are the symptoms of arsenic poisoning?
People can be exposed to arsenic by inhaling it, by consuming contaminated
foods, water, or beverages, or by skin contact. We are normally exposed to trace
amounts of arsenic in the air and water, and in foods. People may be exposed to
higher levels if they live near industrial areas that currently or formerly
contained arsenic compounds. Areas with known high concentrations of arsenic in
the drinking water are also associated with greater exposure.
Acute or immediate symptoms of a toxic level of exposure to arsenic may
include the following:
Dark urine (termed black water urine)
Hemolysis (destruction of red blood cells)
Long-term exposures to aresenic lower than toxic levels can lead to skin
changes (darkening or discoloration, redness, swelling and hyperkeratosis (skin
bumps that resemble corns or warts). Whitish lines (Mees' lines) may appear in
the fingernails. Both sensory and motor nerve defects can develop. Additionally,
liver and kidney function may be affected.
Arsenic exposure over the long-term has also been associated with the
development of certain cancers, and arsenic has been classified as a carcinogen
by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Studies of people in parts of
Southeast Asia and South America where there has been a high level of arsenic in
the drinking water have reported an increased risk of developing cancers of the
skin. Organic arsenic compounds are not as toxic as
inorganic compounds and are not believed to be linked to cancer.