Arsenic is a nearly tasteless, odorless metal; it is the most common cause of acute metal poisoning and the second leading source of chronic metal toxicity. Arsenicals are found in a variety of compounds and industries (see Iable17.8:1) and continue to be used as tools for homicides and suicides.

Elemental, inorganic and organic salts, and gaseous forms exist. Elemental and organic forms have little to no toxicity and will not be discussed further. Inorganic compounds include arsenite (As3+) and arsenate (As5+). These compounds are the most toxic forms, and the discussion below will focus on inorganic arsenic toxicity. Arsine, a gaseous form, has toxicopathologic mechanisms and treatment that differ from those of other arsenical compounds. It will be discussed under a separate heading.

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