Arsenic Rat Poisoning

What happens when exposed to arsenic rat poisoning?

Arsenic poison has been used in exterminating rats for a very long time. Unfortunately, some people unknowingly find themselves ingesting it either in food or other cases. Therefore, to understand arsenic rat poisoning, it helps to learn more about safe storage tips, symptoms, and emergency care.

Arsenic is typically a classic poison that has been used for hundreds of years for varied reasons. It's an element, meaning it can't be broken down into other chemicals. You can find it in a variety of products from paints to pesticides. As a product, arsenic is usually a white powder while it's a gray metal in its natural state.

Other sources of arsenic

Arsenic is not found in rat poisons only. There are other products that contain this element, and it's important to identify and know them. The good thing is that the use of arsenic in commercial and industrial products is being phased out due to the high toxicity of this element.

Still, many processes, materials, and products use arsenic, which can be essential and irreplaceable in them. These include glass manufacturing, wood treatment, drug manufacturing, mining operations and production of semiconductors. In some countries, the use of arsenic is banned or discontinued in some of the applications above.

Facts about arsenic poisoning

Every person is exposed to arsenic daily because most foods and drinking water contain it. The body can tolerate certain amounts of arsenic without showing any effects. Also, this element is important is some functions of the body. Some arsenic compounds will have a garlic-like smell, and this makes it hard to identify them, especially in prepared foods. It's highly toxic in its organic form.

Symptoms of arsenic rat poisoning

In small amounts, arsenic may not show any symptoms, especially when ingested through water. However, children, unhealthy people, and the elderly can experience symptoms after taking smaller amounts of this poison. Large doses can be fatal. For example, a person weighing about 72.6kg can die from ingesting 0.145gm to 1.45gm of arsenic. Death can occur quickly, like after an hour, if a victim doesn't get immediate medical attention.

After ingesting or being exposed to arsenic, you'll start noticing symptoms within a half-hour. Symptoms of taking smaller amounts of arsenic include fatigue, sweat, sleeplessness, increased saliva production, and hallucinations. Immediate symptoms of extended exposure or large ingestions include dizzy spells, vomiting, low blood pressure, cold sensation in the skin, diarrhea with blood, stomach upset and gastric distress.

You may also experience long-term effects such as hair loss, skin cancer, exfoliative dermatitis, and jaundice. If a victim experiences these symptoms and fails to get medical help, they are likely to succumb to a coma and convulsions. Death usually occurs due to circulatory failure caused by the poisoning.

Long exposure to small amounts of arsenic without getting treatment can result in liver, lung or skin cancer. So, if your work involves handling arsenic products, wearing protective gear is important.

Treatment of poisoning

If you suspect that you've ingested or been exposed to arsenic, it's advisable to seek medication attention as soon as possible. Removing the element from the body is far much easier if you see a doctor within the shortest time after the exposure.

Charcoal therapy can be used to help absorb any arsenic fluids in the stomach of the patient. Pumping the patient's stomach is also effective if the ingestion occurred recently. Another common treatment is known as chelation therapy, which involves giving the victim chelating agents to assist in discharging heavy metals from the body.

The doctor may also recommend hemodialysis to remove arsenic from the bloodstream before it starts forming tissues. Bowel irrigation may also help to remove arsenic that hasn't yet been assimilated into the body. Some patients may also get a blood transfusion shortly after the exposure.

Arsenic rat poisoning can be fatal if proper measures are not taken to save a victim's life. Careful use and storage of arsenic products in important to prevent accidental exposure, inhalation, and ingestions. When handling any arsenic products, ensure to adhere to the instructions provided on the label and also take into account any guidelines given by OSHA.

If arsenic rat poisoning is suspected, prompt medical attention will help to prevent severe damage to the patient's circulatory system and even death.

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Last Reviewed:
August 25, 2017
Last Updated:
September 21, 2017