Sunday, November 14, 2010

Arsenic round the world: a review.

Arsenic round the world: a review.
Talanta. 2002 Aug 16;58(1):201-35.
Mandal BK, Suzuki KT.
Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chiba University, Chiba 263-8522, Japan.

This review deals with environmental origin, occurrence, episodes, and impact on human health of arsenic. Arsenic, a metalloid occurs naturally, being the 20th most abundant element in the earth's crust, and is a component of more than 245 minerals. These are mostly ores containing sulfide, along with copper, nickel, lead, cobalt, or other metals. Arsenic and its compounds are mobile in the environment. Weathering of rocks converts arsenic sulfides to arsenic trioxide, which enters the arsenic cycle as dust or by dissolution in rain, rivers, or groundwater. So, groundwater contamination by arsenic is a serious threat to mankind all over the world. It can also enter food chain causing wide spread distribution throughout the plant and animal kingdoms. However, fish, fruits, and vegetables primarily contain organic arsenic, less than 10% of the arsenic in these foods exists in the inorganic form, although the arsenic content of many foods (i.e. milk and dairy products, beef and pork, poultry, and cereals) is mainly inorganic, typically 65-75%. A few recent studies report 85-95% inorganic arsenic in rice and vegetables, which suggest more studies for standardisation. Humans are exposed to this toxic arsenic primarily from air, food, and water. Thousands and thousands of people are suffering from the toxic effects of arsenicals in many countries all over the world due to natural groundwater contamination as well as industrial effluent and drainage problems. Arsenic, being a normal component of human body is transported by the blood to different organs in the body, mainly in the form of MMA after ingestion. It causes a variety of adverse health effects to humans after acute and chronic exposures such as dermal changes (pigmentation, hyperkeratoses, and ulceration), respiratory, pulmonary, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, hematological, hepatic, renal, neurological, developmental, reproductive, immunologic, genotoxic, mutagenetic, and carcinogenic effects. Key research studies are needed for improving arsenic risk assessment at low exposure levels urgently among all the arsenic research groups.

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