Arsenic, a naturally occurring element, is found throughout the environment; for most people, food is the major source of exposure. Acute (short-term) high-level inhalation exposure to arsenic dust or fumes has resulted in gastrointestinal effects (nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain); central and peripheral nervous system disorders have occurred in workers acutely exposed to inorganic arsenic. Chronic (long-term) inhalation exposure to inorganic arsenic of humans is associated with irritation of the skin and mucous membranes and effects in the brain and nervous system.
Chronic oral exposure to elevated levels of inorganic arsenic has resulted in gastrointestinal effects, anemia, peripheral neuropathy, skin lesions, hyperpigmentation, and liver or kidney damage in humans. Inorganic arsenic exposure of humans, by the inhalation route, has been shown to be strongly associated with lung cancer, while ingestion of inorganic arsenic by humans has been linked to a form of skin cancer and also to bladder, liver, and lung cancer. EPA has classified inorganic arsenic as a human carcinogen. Similar to asbestos removal WorkSafeBC regulation requires that Exposure Control Plans are followed to protect workers from exposure.