Arsenic Case Study

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1. The most common route of exposure to Arsenic: The primary routes of arsenic exposure are ingestion (about 80%) (Vahter, 2002) and inhalation. Ingestion most commonly occurs through consumption of food and water containing arsenic. Inhalation commonly occurs from the following sources: naphthalene containing moth repellents and tobacco smoke. The less common route of exposure is the dermal route, e.g. dermal contact when handling preserved wood products containing arsenic (Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, 2010).

2. Distribution of Arsenic: After absorption, arsenic is widely distributed by the blood throughout the body. Distribution of arsenic to the spleen, liver, kidneys, heart and lungs usually occurs within 24 hours of exposure. Only small amounts of arsenic penetrate the blood-brain barrier. Most tissues rapidly clear arsenic, however, keratin-rich tissues such as skin, hair, and nails (and to a lesser extent bones and teeth) will store arsenic (Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, 2010).

3. Metabolism of Arsenic:
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Inorganic arsenic and its two organic metabolites, MMA and DMA, are considered toxic to human tissues. Inorganic arsenic is absorbed into the blood stream at the cellular level and is taken up by red and white blood cells, and other cells that reduce arsenate to arsenite. The reduction of arsenate to arsenite is needed before methylation in the liver can occur. The process of methylation creates metabolites that are less toxic and excreted more easily. However, when the methylating capacity of the liver is exceeded, exposure to excess levels of inorganic arsenic results in increased retention of arsenic in soft tissues (Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry,

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