Overview

Arsenic (CAS 7440-38-2) is a widely distributed element found as part of the natural environment. It occurs in trace quantities in rock, soil, water and air. It is a common contaminant in most mineral ores.

Arsenic is found in a variety of work settings, such as smelting of non-ferrous metals, arsenic refining and production, use of arsenic-containing insecticides and the manufacture of semiconductors

Examples of work activities involving inorganic arsenic that require special attention when assessing exposure include:

  • manufacture of arsenic compounds, the most important being the trioxide (As2O3)
  • formulation and application of:
    • insecticides (lead arsenate, calcium arsenate, arsenic trioxide and pentoxide)
    • weed killers
    • rat poison
    • wood preservatives like copper chrome arsenic (arsenic pentoxide); in the past used as cattle dip (arsenic trioxide) and sheep dip (sodium arsenite)
  • production of pigments (arsenic trisulfide and trioxide), ceramic enamels and anti-fouling paints (arsenic trioxide)
  • hide preservation in the leather industry (arsenic trioxide)
  • hardening copper, lead and other alloys
  • copper, zinc and lead smelting

This guide provides information for those registered medical practitioners engaged by a PCBU to carry out or supervise health monitoring for workers. This guidance should be read in conjunction with the following:

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