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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 7 Issue 2 (2002) pp 51-60

Arsenic Curiosa and Humanity

Ronald Bentley* and Thomas G. Chasteen

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260;; and Department of Chemistry, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX 77341-2117
Received October 15, 2001. Accepted November 27, 2001

Published online: 1 March 2002

Abstract. Despite its undoubted toxicity, arsenic is a much-used element, finding applications in agriculture, industry, and medicine. Arsenic as a poison has a prominent role in plays and novels as well as in real life. In medicine, arsenic was so widely used in the 19th century as a cure-all that it has been termed a “therapeutic mule.” Some arsenic compounds are still used in the treatment of parasitic disease. Moreover, in a striking development for a material regarded as a carcinogen, arsenous trioxide (brand name, Trisenox) was recently approved for treatment of leukemia. Arsenic has had a profound overall impact on human lives.

Key Words:  In the Classroom; general chemistry, inorganic chemistry, history, toxicity

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Issue date: April 5, 2002

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