As (Arsenic)

UNICERT is the leading inspection body in the area of water quality test for Arsenic (As) and objectives to reduce environmental emission/pollution and enhance environmental performance to the society.

Arsenic (As):

Arsenic is a chemical element with symbol As and atomic number 33. Arsenic occurs in many minerals, usually in combination with sulfur and metals, but also as a pure elemental crystal. Arsenic is a metalloid. It has various allotropes, but only the gray form, which has a metallic appearance, is important to industry.

The primary use of arsenic is in alloys of lead (for example, in car batteries and ammunition). Arsenic is a common n-type dopant in semiconductor electronic devices, and the optoelectronic compound gallium arsenide is the second most commonly used semiconductor after doped silicon. Arsenic and its compounds, especially the trioxide, are used in the production of pesticides, treated wood products, herbicides, and insecticides. These applications are declining due to the toxicity of arsenic and its compounds.

A few species of bacteria are able to use arsenic compounds as respiratory metabolites. Trace quantities of arsenic are an essential dietary element in rats, hamsters, goats, chickens, and presumably other species. A role in human metabolism is not known. However, arsenic poisoning occurs in multicellular life if quantities are larger than needed. Arsenic contamination of groundwater is a problem that affects millions of people across the world.

The United States’ Environmental Protection Agency states that all forms of arsenic are a serious risk to human health. The United States’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry ranked arsenic as number 1 in its 2001 Priority List of Hazardous Substances at Superfund sites. Arsenic is classified as a Group-A carcinogen.


Arsenic poisoning:

Arsenic poisoning is a medical condition that occurs due to elevated levels of arsenic in the body. If arsenic poisoning occurs over a brief period of time symptoms may include vomiting, abdominal pain, encephalopathy, and watery diarrhea that contains blood. Long-term exposure can result in thickening of the skin, darker skin, abdominal pain, diarrhea, heart disease, numbness, and cancer.

The most common reason for long-term exposure is contaminated drinking water. Groundwater most often becomes contaminated naturally; however, contamination may also occur from mining or agriculture. It may also be found in the soil and air. Recommended levels in water are less than 10–50 µg/L (10–50 parts per billion). Other routes of exposure include toxic waste sites and traditional medicines. Most cases of poisoning are accidental. Arsenic acts by changing the functioning of around 200 enzymes. Diagnosis is by testing the urine, blood, or hair.

Prevention is by using water that does not contain high levels of arsenic. This may be achieved by the use of special filters or using rainwater. There is not good evidence to support specific treatments for long-term poisoning. For acute poisonings treating dehydration is important. Dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) or dimercaptopropane sulfonate (DMPS) may be used while dimercaprol (BAL) is not recommended. Hemodialysis may also be used.

Through drinking water, more than 200 million people globally are exposed to higher than safe levels of arsenic. The areas most affected are Bangladesh and West Bengal. Exposure is also more common in people of low income and minorities. Acute poisoning is uncommon. The toxicity of arsenic has been described as far back as 1500 BC in the Ebers papyrus


Interested Parties including Regulatory Authorities:

  1. Persons affected by As
  2. Industries, Laboratories using/ Generating As
  3. Mine and mineral containing As
  4. Personal and commercial uses of As
  5. Private / Govt. Projects to control As
  6. Handling and transportation of goods containing As
  7. Local Environmental Department/ Authorities
  8. Local Government Authorities like Municipalities, City Corporation etc.
  9. Local Law Enforcing Agencies like Police, Magistrate and Regulatory Authorities etc.


Benefit of Monitoring:

By monitoring long-term contamination trends, every country establishes baseline contamination levels, making it possible for early identification of contamination events. Daily events and long term trends are captured and taken step to reduce environmental emission/ pollution and enhance environmental performance of the society.