Arsenic Exposure: Mechanisms of Action and Related Health Effects

For many centuries, Arsenic (As) has almost exclusively been connected with deliberate poisoning, but in the contemporary world, it has largely contributed to escalating environmental pollution. The widespread anthropogenic use of pesticides containing arsenic can adversely affect human health. In addition, the activities that involves mining and burning of coal, thereby releasing it in the air has received pivotal attention. Arsenic differs in its form when food and drinking water are concerned. In food, arsenic is found in both organic and inorganic form, depending on the kind of food, whereas, arsenic is present in inorganic form (either as AsIII or AsV) in drinking water. Groundwater usually contains arsenic as detected in 70 countries worldwide that has affected 140 million people. Most of the affected people live in Asia (such as Bangladesh, India) who have been affected with concentration levels higher than the WHO drinking water arsenic value of 10 μg/L as well as the national regulatory standards (e.g., 50 μg/L in India and Bangladesh).

arsenic health effects

Arsenic contamination prevalent in groundwater often stems from geological sources and its consumption can cause chronic health disorders in numerous affected regions across the globe. In Asia, arsenic found in groundwater is considered as the largest environmental health disaster that aims to threaten at least 100 million people in the Bengal Basin of Bangladesh and West Bengal. Arsenic exposure and consumption has been affecting India with cancer disease and other Asrelated ailments. Arsenic is the 52nd out of 92 elements that is heavily found in earth’s crust and has a concentration of 1.8 parts per million. This poisonous element occurs naturally in numerous minerals such as arsenopyrite, tennantite (copper arsenic sulfide) and realgar (arsenic sulfide). In soils, mostly the inorganic forms of arsenic are found such as AsIII (arsenite) and AsV (arsenate). Monomethylarsonic acid (MMAA), Methylated species, trimethylarsine oxide (TMAO) and dimethylarsinic acid (DMAA) are vastly present in biomass, but soils also incorporate them. In addition, AsV and AsIII can be evaporated at regular temperature for transforming into arsine, MMAA changing to tomonomethylarsine, TMAO transforming to trimethylarsine (TMA) and DMAA taking shape of dimethylarsine (DMA).


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