Health topics

Arsenic

A girl getting water from a pump WHO
 

Arsenic is a metalloid element, which forms a number of poisonous compounds. It is widely distributed throughout the earth’s crust, and is found in groundwater supplies in a number of countries.

Long-term human exposure, through drinking of contaminated water, is an important public health problem in some regions and countries, and is associated with cancer of the skin, lungs, bladder and kidney. Acute arsenic poisoning produces vomiting, oesophageal and abdominal pain, and bloody “rice water” diarrhoea.