Chemical Fact Sheet: Arsenic
(L. arsenicum, Gr. arsenikon, yellow orpiment, identified with arsenikos, male, from the belief that metals were different sexes; Arabic, Az-zernikh, the orpiment from Persian zerni-zar, gold), As; at. wt. 74.92159(2); at. no. 33; valence -3, 0, +3 or +5. Elemental arsenic occurs in two solid modifications: yellow, and gray or metallic, with specific gravities of 1.97, and 5.73, respectively. Gray arsenic, the ordinary stable form, has a m.p. of 817'C (28 atm) and sublimes at 614'C. Several other allotropic forms of arsenic are reported in the literature. It is believed that Albertus Magnus obtained the element in 1250 A.D. In 1649 Schroeder published two methods of preparing the element. It is found native, in the sulfides realgar and orpiment, as arsenides and sulfarsenides of heavy metals, as the oxide, and as arsenates. Mispickel, arsenopyrite, (FeSAs) is the most common mineral, from which on heating the arsenic sublimes leaving ferrous sulfide. The element is a steel gray, very brittle, crystalline, semimetallic solid; it tarnishes in air, and when heated is rapidly oxidized to arsenous oxide (AS2O3) with the odor of garlic. Arsenic and its compounds are poisonous. These values, however, are being studied, and may be lowered. Arsenic is also used in bronzing, pyrotechny, and for hardening and improving the sphericity of shot. The most important compounds are white arsenic (AS2O3), the sulfide, Paris green 3Cu(AsO2)2 - Cu(C2H3O2)2, Calcium arsenate, and lead arsenate; the last three have been used as agricultural insecticides and poisons. Marsh's test makes use of the formation and ready decomposition of arsine (AsH3). Arsenic is available in high-purity form. It is finding increasing uses as a doping agent in solid-state devices such as transistors. Gallium arsenide is used as a laser material to convert electricity directly into coherent light. Natural arsenic is made of one isotope 75 As. Twenty-five other radioactive isotopes and isomers are known. Arsenic (99%) costs about $175/kg. Purified arsenic (99.9995%) costs about $2/gm.