Arsenic trioxide (As2O3)is the starting material for most arsenic chemistry. It is used in a variety of arsenic-based manufacturing, including:
- Arsenic-based pesticides like sodium arsenite, sodium arsenate, and sodium cacodylate
- Arsenic-based pharmaceuticals like Neosalvarsan and certain veterinary products
- Wood preservative
- Preparation of arsenic alloys and arsenide semiconductors
- Preparation of elemental arsenic
- Decolorizing glass and enamel.
Arsenic trioxide also has an interesting application in medicine; it is used as a cytostatic to treat the refractory promyelocytic (M3) subtype of acute myeloid leukemia, generally in IV form. It may be used to treat other leukemia patients who have not responded to other medications.
Arsenic trioxide is also readily absorbed by the digestive system and lung tissue, and is highly toxic. Inhalation of dust or fumes, or even skin contact, has resulted in toxicity. Most is eliminated rapidly, with a half-life of about 1-2 days, but as much as 30-40% in cases of repeated exposure is incorporated into tissues rich in keratin like bone, muscle, skin, hair, and nails, and takes weeks or months to eliminate, providing forensic evidence in crimes.
Symptoms of arsenic poisoning include vomiting, abdominal pains, bleeding diarrhea, convulsions, cardiovascular problems, inflammation of the liver and kidneys as they work to eliminate it, and blood abnormalities. Pigmentation of the skin may change (generally lightening). Arsenic trioxide is a potent human carcinogen, and can cause birth abnormalities and fertility problems.
Web Resources On Arsenic Trioxide
Arsenic Trioxide MMGs
MedLinePlus: Arsenic Trioxide
Book Resources On Arsenic Trioxide
Cancer Treatment by Charles M. Haskell et al
Environmental Chemistry of Arsenic by William T. Frankenberger