Arsenic is the 33rd element of the periodic table. Found in organic and inorganic form in the environment, in industrial products and by-products of human activity. In ancient times it was used for medicinal purposes and as a poisonous substance. This semimetal and currently used by dentists.
Arsenic poisoning can happen by negligence or deliberately. Therefore, it is necessary to know where this element is contained, in what cases it is possible to poison yourself. In time to orient in an emergency situation will help knowledge of the symptoms of intoxication and methods of first aid.
Causes of arsenic poisoning
Where can arsenic be found?
- In the soil and rocks - hence the arsenic enters the groundwater and surface water.
- In the smoke, which is formed when burning chemical waste, smelting ore and burning coal.
- In food products, especially seafood: crustaceans, mollusks, fish.
- In herbicides, pesticides, antifungal agents, food preservatives and dyes. Arsenic is part of the preparations for the destruction of parasites, insects and rodents.
- At the enterprises where glass, semiconductors and electronic devices are manufactured.
Causes of poisoning:
- the use of contaminated food and water;
- industrial accident;
- non-compliance with safety regulations when working with toxic substances;
- assassination attempt.
How does arsenic affect humans?
There are three ways in which arsenic can enter the body:
- ingestion through the mouth;
- skin penetration;
- inhalation of toxic fumes.
When arsenic enters the body, it quickly moves from the blood plasma to red blood cells. Here it binds with protein (globin) and enters the bloodstream to the liver, kidneys, spleen, heart and lungs. The nervous system and digestive organs suffer. It acts at the cell level, disrupting the most important biochemical processes and cellular respiration. The lethal dose is 0.05–0.2 grams.
Poisoning can be acute or chronic. Signs of acute arsenic poisoning appear quickly when a significant amount of this element enters the human body. Chronic intoxication develops slowly, when the metal for a long time enters various organs and tissues, gradually accumulating in them. This can be observed in people working in the leather, fur, chemical industry, in agriculture, where pesticides and herbicides are used.
Arsenic remains in the body for a long time. 2 weeks after poisoning, it can be found in the hair and nails. It also lasts for a long time in the bones and teeth. Arsenic is removed by 90% of the kidneys, the remaining 10% leave the body through the intestines.
Symptoms of arsenic poisoning
Symptoms of acute arsenic poisoning in humans can be observed approximately half an hour after the poison has been swallowed. When vapors are inhaled or swallowed on an empty stomach, arsenic very quickly enters the bloodstream, the clinic grows with lightning speed. In this case, the probability of death is high. If the toxic substance is ingested with food, the effect may occur after a few hours.
Symptoms of arsenic poisoning:
- general weakness;
- nausea and vomiting;
- cramping abdominal pain;
- the stool is reminiscent of rice water;
- garlic smell when breathing;
- dehydration and thirst.
Characterized by the defeat of most organs and systems, which is manifested by the corresponding symptoms.
- Cardiovascular system - heartbeat, pressure reduction, conduction disturbance in the heart muscle.
- Nervous system - mental disorders (delirium), convulsions and coma.
The respiratory system - a spasm of the larynx, it becomes hard to breathe, pulmonary edema and respiratory failure occur.
- Gastrointestinal tract - burns the pharynx, erosion and ulcers of the esophageal mucosa, bleeding.
- Changes in the blood are characterized by hemolysis - the destruction of red blood cells. In this case, the urine becomes dark and develops jaundice.
- Kidney damage associated with hemolysis. Death of the renal tubules occurs and acute renal failure progresses. Blood appears in the urine.
Depending on the prevalence of clinical manifestations, gastrointestinal form of poisoning is distinguished when the symptoms of damage to the digestive organs come to the fore. A heavier variant is the paralytic form with severe neurological symptoms and the development of coma.
In chronic arsenic poisoning, symptoms begin to manifest from two to eight weeks after this element enters the body. As a result of the toxic action of arsenic, the cerebral cortex is damaged - encephalopathy develops. The peripheral nerves that regulate the activity of the lower limbs suffer. When neuropathy occurs pain, a violation of sensitivity, weakness in the legs.
Changes occur in the heart muscle. Myocarditis and pericarditis develops. A persistent dilation of small vessels (capillaries) is noted. Perhaps toxic liver damage is hepatitis. Laryngitis, bronchitis and tracheitis may occur. In the blood, a low level of hemoglobin is detected. General weakness, malaise, hair loss are also characteristic of chronic intoxication.
With systemic effects of arsenic, skin and nail changes occur:
- redness and hyperpigmentation in the eyelids, in the armpits, in the temples, in the neck, scrotum and nipples;
- excessive growth of the surface layer of the skin (hyperkeratosis);
- skin tightening and detachment - peeling;
- white transverse lines appear on the nail bed.
Arsenic is a carcinogen. Over time, skin and lung cancer may develop.
Is it possible to get arsenic poisoning during dentistry
Many people, going to the dentist, are wondering if it is possible to poison arsenic from a tooth. Previously, arsenic paste was often used to kill a nerve. When exposed to this drug, nerve cells die and the tooth stops hurting. But more than two days with such a seal can not walk, as complications may appear.
If you do not remove the toxic material from the body in time, then there is a small probability of the onset of symptoms of poisoning. There may be a metallic taste in the mouth. But the structures surrounding the tooth are more often affected: inflammation and swelling of the soft tissues (periodontitis) and bone necrosis develop. As a result, the tooth can be lost.
If everything is done correctly, then arsenic poisoning in the treatment of teeth is unlikely. Especially now there are modern drugs that do not contain toxic substances. Arsenic paste began to be used very rarely.
First aid for arsenic poisoning
First aid for arsenic poisoning is carried out as standard.
Call an ambulance.
- In the absence of consciousness of the affected person lay sideways.
- If there are no signs of life, - cardiopulmonary resuscitation is performed.
- Get rid of toxin residues. When a person is conscious, it is necessary to do a gastric lavage with plenty of water. You can add 2 teaspoons of salt per liter of water. From the skin of this poison is easily removed with water, soap and scouring pads.
- Combating intoxication and dehydration involves frequent drinking in small portions.
- You can take activated carbon. But it is not worth waiting for a strong effect, since coal weakly binds arsenic. Laxatives are best not to take.
If the degree of poisoning is mild, hospitalization may not be necessary. Victims in a serious condition, and also moderate severity should be directed to a hospital.
Arsenic Poisoning Treatment
The main treatment for arsenic poisoning includes the following series of remedial measures.
- Oxygen inhalation in case of poisoning in pairs.
- Infusion therapy: the introduction of saline, sodium bicarbonate - to reduce poisoning, maintain the volume of circulating blood and blood pressure.
- In severe hemolysis and the appearance of hemoglobin in the urine, the glucose-novocaine mixture is injected.
- If breathing is difficult, Eufillin is used.
- The activity of the cardiovascular system is maintained.
- Renal failure is being treated.
- Effectively conducting forced diuresis and hemodialysis.
A specific antidote for arsenic is Unithiol . It is administered intravenously or intramuscularly. In chronic poisoning, “D-penicillamine” is used.
Finishing the conversation about such a dangerous element, I would like to note that it is much easier to avoid poisoning than to cure its consequences. To do this, you must comply with safety, use purified water and proven products. Do not keep at home products containing arsenic. And if you can not do without it, then hide in a place inaccessible to children.