Arsenic

Overview

CAS No. 7440-38-2

Arsenic (As) is a white to gray, brittle solid. It occurs naturally in water and soil. Arsenic can be harmful to the eyes, skin, liver, kidneys, lungs, and lymphatic system. Exposure to arsenic can also cause cancer. Workers may be harmed from exposure to arsenic. The level of exposure depends upon the dose, duration, and work being done.

Arsenic is used in many industries. It is used in some paints, wood preservatives, agricultural chemicals, and in glass manufacturing. Some examples of workers at risk of being exposed to arsenic include the following:

  • Agricultural or farm workers exposed to some farming chemicals
  • Employees involved in glass manufacturing
  • Construction and mine workers exposed to arsenic-containing soil
  • Recyclers exposed to electronic or e-waste
  • Workers who perform nonferrous smelting—a process to extract metal from ore

NIOSH recommends that employers use Hierarchy of Controls to prevent injuries. If you work in an industry that uses arsenic, please read chemical labels and the accompanying Safety Data Sheets for hazard information. Visit NIOSH’s page on Managing Chemical Safety in the Workplace to learn more about controlling chemical workplace exposures.

The following resources provide information about occupational exposure to arsenic. Useful search terms for arsenic include “arsenia” and “arsenic metal.”

NIOSH Chemical Resources

Logo of NIOSH Pocket Guide

The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (NPG) helps workers, employers, and occupational health professionals recognize and control workplace chemical hazards.

Logo of Manual of Analytical Methods.

The NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM) is a collection of methods for sampling and analysis of contaminants in workplace air, and in the blood and urine of workers who are occupationally exposed.

Logo of Health Hazard Evaluations consisting of three letters: HHE

The Health Hazard Evaluation Program (HHE) conducts onsite investigations of possible worker exposure to chemicals. Search the HHE database for more information on arsenic.

Related NIOSH Resources

Selected Publications

Related Resources

International Resources

Page last reviewed: November 2, 2018