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ACUTE EXPOSURE INFORMATION
- Arsenic trichloride is a colorless or yellow oily liquid with an unpleasant, acrid odor which fumes in air. On contact with water or when heated to decomposition, arsenic and hydrochloric acid are released. The fumes are very irritating to the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes.
- Ingestion can cause severe irritation of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and stomach. Laryngeal or tracheal edema may occur and compromise the airway. Severe esophageal erosions may be seen in ingestions. Direct dermal exposure can cause irritation and blistering. Following inhalation, ingestion, or dermal exposure, arsenic is absorbed systemically and arsenic poisoning results.
- Arsenic trichloride is mutagenic in bacteria, hamster embryo cells, and human leukocytes.
- Acute arsenic ingestion generally produces symptoms within 30 to 60 minutes, but onset may be delayed for several hours if ingested with food. A metallic or garlic taste, vomiting, abdominal pain, dysphagia, and profuse watery (rice-water-like) and sometimes bloody diarrhea may occur. Dehydration, intense thirst, and fluid-electrolyte disturbances are common. Hypovolemia from capillary leaking ("third spacing" of fluids) is a common early event.
- Systemic arsenic poisoning from occupational exposure is uncommon. Arsenic workers have developed a hoarse voice, nasal irritation and possibly perforation of the nasal septum, irritation of eyes, skin, and mucous membranes, and rarely, cirrhosis of the liver. Nausea and vomiting are infrequent. Painful ulceration of the wrist and scrotal skin, lips, and nostrils may develop with dust exposure.
- The primary target organs initially are the gastrointestinal tract, heart, brain, and kidneys. Eventually, the skin, bone marrow, and peripheral nervous system may be significantly damaged. The peripheral neuropathy appears similar regardless of the route of exposure.
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