Arsenic is the 33rd element of the periodic table. Occurs in an organic and inorganic form in the environment, in industrial products and by-products of human activities. In ancient times it was used for medicinal purposes and as a poisonous substance. This semimetal is currently used by dentists.
Arsenic poisoning can happen by negligence or deliberately. Therefore, you need to know where this element is contained, in which cases you can poison yourself. Time to orient in an emergency situation will help to know the symptoms of intoxication and ways of providing first aid.
Causes of Arsenic Poisoning
Where can you find arsenic?
- In soil and rocks - hence arsenic enters ground and surface water.
- In the smoke that is formed when burning chemical waste, melting ore and burning coal.
- In food products, especially seafood: crustaceans, mollusks, fish.
- In herbicides, pesticides, antifungal agents, food preservatives and dyes. Arsenic is a part of preparations for the destruction of parasites, insects and rodents.
- At factories where glass, semiconductors and electronic devices are made.
Causes of poisoning:
- the use of contaminated products and water;
- an accident at work;
- non-observance of safety precautions when working with poisonous substances;
- attempted murder.
How arsenic acts on humans
There are three ways of penetrating arsenic into the body:
- ingestion by mouth;
- penetration through the skin;
- inhalation of toxic fumes.
When arsenic enters the body, it quickly moves from the blood plasma to the erythrocytes. Here, it binds to the protein (globin) and flows into the liver, kidneys, spleen, heart and lungs with blood flow. The nervous system and digestive organs suffer. 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 the 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. After 2 weeks after poisoning, it can be found in the hair and nails. Also, it lasts for a long time in bones and teeth. Arsenic is excreted by 90% kidneys, the remaining 10% leave the body through the intestine.
Symptoms of arsenic poisoning
Symptoms of acute arsenic poisoning in humans can be observed about half an hour after the ingestion of poison. When breathing in fumes or ingesting on an empty stomach, arsenic very quickly penetrates into the blood, the clinic grows lightning fast. In this case, the probability of a fatal outcome is high. If the poisonous substance has got into the body with food, then the action may appear after several hours.
Symptoms of arsenic poisoning:
- general weakness;
- nausea and vomiting;
- abdominal cramps;
- the chair resembles a rice decoction;
- garlic odor when breathing;
- dehydration and thirst.
Characteristic is the defeat of most organs and systems, which is manifested by the corresponding symptoms.
- Cardiovascular system - palpitation, pressure decrease, conduction disturbance in the cardiac muscle.
- Nervous system - mental disorders (delirium), convulsions and coma.
The respiratory system is a spasm of the larynx, it becomes difficult to breathe, there is a swelling of the lungs and respiratory failure.
- Gastrointestinal tract - burns the pharynx, erosion and ulcers of the mucosa of the esophagus, bleeding.
- Changes in the blood are characterized by hemolysis - the destruction of erythrocytes. The urine becomes dark and jaundice develops.
- Renal damage is associated with hemolysis. Death of the renal tubules occurs and acute renal failure progresses. In the urine, blood appears.
Depending on the prevalence of clinical manifestations, the gastrointestinal form of poisoning is distinguished, when the symptoms of the digestive system are at the forefront. The more severe variant is the paralytic form with the expressed neurologic symptomatology and development of a coma.
With chronic arsenic poisoning, symptoms begin to appear between two to eight weeks after the ingestion of this element in the body. As a result of toxic effects of arsenic, the cerebral cortex is damaged - encephalopathy develops. Suffer peripheral nerves that regulate the activity of the lower extremities. With neuropathy, pain, sensitivity, weakness in the legs are observed.
Changes occur in the heart muscle. Myocarditis and pericarditis develop. There is a persistent expansion of small vessels (capillaries). Perhaps the toxic damage to the liver is hepatitis. Laryngitis, bronchitis and tracheitis can be observed. In the blood there is a low level of hemoglobin. General weakness, malaise, hair loss are also characteristic of chronic intoxication.
With systemic exposure to arsenic, skin and nail changes appear:
- redness and hyperpigmentation in the eyelids, in the armpits, on the temples, the neck, scrotum and nipples;
- excessive overgrowth of the surface layer of the skin (hyperkeratosis);
- densification of the skin and its detachment - peeling;
- White transverse lines appear on the nail bed.
Arsenic is a carcinogen. Over time, skin and lung cancer can develop.
Is it possible to get arsenic poisoning in the treatment of teeth?
Many people, going to the dentist, are wondering whether it is possible to poison themselves with arsenic from the tooth. Earlier, arsenous paste was often used to kill the nerve. With the action of such a drug, nerve cells die and the tooth ceases to ache. But more than two days with such a seal can not be walked, because complications may appear.
If you do not remove the toxic material from the body in time, then there is a small chance of symptoms of poisoning. There may be a taste of metal in the mouth. But more often the structures surrounding the tooth are affected: inflammation and edema of soft tissues (periodontitis) and necrosis of the bone 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. Arsenious paste was used very rarely.
First aid for arsenic poisoning
The first aid for arsenic poisoning is standard.
Call for an ambulance.
- In the absence of consciousness, the injured person should be laid on one side.
- If there are no signs of life, then 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, this poison is easily removed with water, soap and bast.
- Combating intoxication and dehydration includes frequent drinking in small portions.
- You can take activated charcoal. But to wait for a strong effect is not necessary, since coal weakly binds arsenic. Laxatives should not be taken.
With a mild degree of poisoning, hospitalization may not be required. Victims in serious condition, as well as of moderate severity should be referred to a hospital.
Treatment of arsenic poisoning
The main treatment for arsenic poisoning includes the following series of therapeutic measures.
- Inhalation of oxygen during poisoning in pairs.
- Infusion therapy: the introduction of saline, sodium hydrogen carbonate - to reduce poisoning, maintaining the volume of circulating blood and blood pressure.
- With the expressed hemolysis and the appearance of hemoglobin in the urine, a glucose-novocaine mixture is introduced.
- If breathing is difficult, then "Eufillin" is used.
- The cardiovascular system is maintained.
- Treatment of renal failure is under way.
- Effectively conducting forced diuresis and hemodialysis.
A specific antidote to arsenic is Uniothiol . It is administered intravenously by drip or by intramuscular injection. In chronic poisoning, "D-penicillamine" is used.
Concluding the conversation about such a dangerous element, I want to note that avoiding poisoning is much easier than treating its consequences. For this, it is necessary to comply with safety techniques, to use purified water and tested products. Do not store houses containing arsenic. And if you can not do without it, then hide it in a place inaccessible to children.