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Uses of Arsenic

Arsenic, with the chemical symbol As and the atomic number of 33, is a chemical element that occurs in many other minerals such as sulfur and metals. It is a metalloid which usually has a metallic gray appearance. Arsenic is very poisonous to most life and there are only a few species of bacteria that are able to use arsenic compounds safely. Here are some of the most common uses for arsenic in the world today!

Uses of Arsenic

  • The main use of metallic arsenic is for strengthening alloys of copper and lead to use in car batteries.
  • It is also used as an n-type dopant in semi conductive electronic devices.
  • Arsenic is also used in numerous pesticides, herbicides and insecticides though this practice is becoming less common as more of these products are banned.
  • It has been used as a wood preserver because of its toxicity to insects, bacteria and fungi.
  • Arsenic is added to animal food to prevent disease and to promote growth.
  • Arsenic is used in the medical treatment of cancers such as acute promyelocytic leukemia.
  • It is also used in medical solutions such as Fowler’s solution for psoriasis
  • Arsenic-74 an isotope is being used as a way to locate tumours within the body. It produces clearer pictures than that of iodine.
  • Arsenic is added in small quantities to alpha-brass to make it resistant to leaching zinc. This grade of brass is used to make plumbing fittings or other items which are in constant contact with water.

How Arsenic Was Used in The Past

  • To create biological weapons during the First World War and the Vietnam War
  • As a stimulant during the 18th century
  • Copper acetoarsenite was used as a green pigment known under many names, including ‘Paris Green’ and ‘Emerald Green’.
  • Scheele’s Green, a copper arsenate, was used in the 19th century as a colouring agent in sweets
  • Arsenic was used in optical glass. Modern glass manufacturers, under pressure from environmentalists, have removed it, along with lead.

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