By: Ben Mulholland

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Discovery of Arsenic

The Greek and Romans are believed to have first use Arsenic compounds. Physicians and Pioneers used this element, and it was most commonly used as the compound arsenic sulfide. However, it is believed that the element was first discovered by Albertus Magnus, who was a German alchemist, in 1250 A.D. It was originally discovered in ancient times, but Magnus discovered it when he isolated it by heating soap and orpiment.

Image of Arsenic

This is arsenic in orpiment. Orpiment is made of the compound arsenic sulfide.
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Uses of Arsenic

Arsenic is commonly used as a compound with materials in pigments, poison gases, insecticides, and is notorious for being used as a rat poison. Showing that humans definitely use this element. Arsenic can also be used as a medicine. It was used to treat syphilis and yaws (a contagious disease from tropical countries) before penicillin was developed. Other uses for arsenic include: ammunition to make harder and rounder bullets, semi-conductor manufacturing, tanning and taxidermy, and on the coating of wood.

Arsenic in Nature

Arsenic is most commonly found in minerals found in France, Germany, Italy, Romania, Siberia, and North America. Arsenic can be found in the Earth's crust in rock, soil, water and air. Many minerals contain arsenic within them. Natural sources, such as volcanoes, are accountable for 33% of arsenic in the atmosphere. High levels of arsenic have been discovered in drinking water from deep drilled wells. Mining, smelting, and coal-fired power plants also raise the levels of arsenic in the air, water, and soil. Arsenic can be found in many different forms throughout the environment, and its form changes occasionally as it is transported. Arsenic comes in various forms both inorganic and organic. It has some of the properties of metal, and is a natural component of the Earth's crust. Arsenic is specified as a Category 1 Carcinogen by the International Academy for Research on Cancer (IARC), therefore it must be purified if it will be used by humans.

Arsenic Video

Arsenic - Periodic Table of Videos

More with arsenic

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Arsenic Cartoons

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