ARSINE POISONING

Arsine poisoning causes significant hemoglobinuric renal failure, anemia, jaundice, and hemolysis. Arsine is the element of arsenic’s gaseous and most poisonous form. It is a non-irritating, odorless gas used in the semiconductor and metal processing sectors.

The intensity and duration of arsine exposure, as well as the person’s premorbid status, will all influence the onset and severity of the sickness. Exposing an individual with underlying coronary artery disease to the same dose, for instance, is likely to result in higher morbidity than exposing a healthy person.

SYMPTOMS

Arsine has no odor; thus, individuals may not realize they have been exposed to it at lower concentrations. At larger dosages, it has been observed that a slight garlic odor is present (however, this cannot be reliably used as a warning). Within 24 hours after inhaling a modest or moderate amount of arsine, individuals may suffer any or all of the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Weakness
  • Yellow skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Red or dark urine
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain

These additional health problems may arise from exposure to high doses of arsine by any method. (Note: These symptoms do not always indicate arsine poisoning.)

  • Respiratory compromise, potentially fatal
  • Convulsions
  • Paralysis
  • Loss of consciousness

DIAGNOSIS

Specific tests can detect arsenic levels in urine, although this information may or may not be useful to the clinician. Standard blood, urinary, and other health screening may indicate if the exposure has caused significant harm to the kidneys, blood cells, neurons, or lungs. Because the deadly consequences of arsine poisoning might be delayed, testing should be performed in all suspected instances of exposure.

TREATMENT

Arsine has no antidote, although its symptoms may be addressed. To protect the kidneys from injury, a doctor may provide fluids via a vein to the exposed patient. Blood cleansing and blood transfusions (hemodialysis to avoid further kidney damage) may be required for severe poisoning.

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