Arsenic: The Deadly Element Mabel runyon, Bryan Science, Section c

Arsenic (Latin name: Arsenicum) is one of the most deadly elements, and it has been present in the scientific world since 1250 BC, when it was discovered by the German scientist, and Saint, Albertus Magnus. The name of the element Arsenic comes from the Persian word "zarnikh", which means "yellow orpiment". The Greeks later adopted this to the word "arsenikos", meaning "masculine" or "potent". This was later re-formed into the Latin word "arsenicum", which, like the Persian root, means "yellow orpiment", based on its color and pigmentation. The symbol of Arsenic is "As". Source: - arsenic.html

This is an image of St. Albertus Magnus, who discovered Arsenic in 1250 BC. Source:'_Quill_Pen?file=Albertus.jpg

Below are some basic facts about Arsenic.

  • Atomic Number: 33
  • Average Atomic Mass (AAM): 74.92160 (75)
  • Number of Protons: 33
  • Number of neutrons: 42
  • Number of Electrons: 33
  • Different Stable Isotopes: Arsenic has one stable isotope, which is As75, its only stable isotope.
Here is an image of the element Arsenic as it is represented on the Periodic Table showing the name, symbol, atomic number, and average atomic mass, except with an image of the element as well. Source:

There are many natural sources for the element Arsenic, and they include the Earth's outer crust (Mineral ore, which is a type of rock that contains a large quantity of different minerals), which is a very abundant source of Arsenic, as well as a considerable amount in the Earth's atmosphere. Traces of Arsenic can be found in Cobalt, Lead, Gold, Nickel, and Zinc. In certain places in Southeast Asia like India, Bangladesh, and Tiwan, amount of Arsenic can be found in the groundwater, which can cause serious health hazards for the people who consume it due to Arsenic's poisonous properties. However, one of the most important and biggest natural geological sources of Arsenic comes from the vapor that results from volcanic action (Otherwise known as Geothermal Activity). Source: - 2.htm

This is an image of Mount Saint Helens erupting, and as you can see there are large billowing clouds of vapor, smoke, and ash, which is a natural source of the element Arsenic. Source:

Arsenic has many uses, but I think that the first and most important one is the fact that the chemical compound Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) is an excellent semiconductor, used in laser diodes, and LEDs. Arsenic also is used in pesticides and insecticides, which are used in wood preservation. Finally, Arsenic has many medical uses, and not all or them are good. In 1910, Paul Ehrlich, a German biologist, invented Salvarsan, a medicine designed to cure the disease syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease. The scientific chemical name for Salvarsan is Arsphenamine, because Salvarsan is a chemical compound of Arsenic. However, not every medical use for Arsenic is good. Arsenic is also a deadly poison, known to many as the "King of Poisons", or the "Poison of Kings". Arsenic is lethal, and can have effect on the person who consumes it within 1 - 3 days. As I mentioned before, in areas in India and Tiwan, groundwater contains Arsenic, and roughly 45,000 people die from Arsenic poisoning and Arsenic related diseases each year. Source:

This is an antique poster warning people about the poisonous properties of Arsenic, and it also shows that Arsenic was also used agriculturally, as pesticides. Source:

An interesting scientific fact about Arsenic is that it can be used to cure certain forms of Leukemia, which is a form of cancer that affects the blood. This is very important because cancer is huge issue in the world today, and affects millions. Source: - arsenic.html


Here is an old cartoon from the Victorian Age that is depicting how deadly Arsenic is as a poison to humans. This cartoon was very commonly known back then because it was known as "The Arsenic Waltz", or the "Dance of Death", showing just how lethal Arsenic really is, and how quickly it can kill you. Arsenic was also depicted in movies such as "Arsenic and Old Lace" (1944), as shown below. Source above.

This is the movie poster for the award-winning film "Arsenic and Old Lace", from 1944 with Cary Grant. Source:

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