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Arsenic and Arsenic Compounds Fact Sheet

This fact sheet is part of a series of chemical fact sheets developed by TURI to help Massachusetts companies, community organizations and residents understand the chemical's use and health and environmental effects, as well as the availability of safer alternatives. Since Massachusetts companies report usage under the Toxics Use Reduction Act, readers will learn how the chemicals are being used and by which companies. m3

Inorganic arsenic is a known human carcinogen. An element in the earth’s crust, inorganic arsenic enters production primarily in the form of arsenic trioxide or “white arsenic.” It is also used as a pure metal and in the form of arsine gas. The most common end-use for arsenic in the U.S. and Massachusetts is as a wood preservative. Massachusetts firms also use arsenic as an intermediary in the manufacture of electronic products. Following the national trend, arsenic use in Massachusetts is growing, with total use up 13% between 1990 and 1996.

Human and animal data suggest that inorganic arsenic is a reproductive hazard. The data are insufficient for developing a definitive causal relationship, especially due to the chance that other chemicals and risk factors were involved in analyses of human exposure.

Learn more about arsenic and arsenic compounds' health effects, their use in Massachusetts, and alternatives here.