Arsenic is a metalloid meaning that it has characteristics between a metal and non-metal. It is number 33 in the periodic table. The references to arsenic go back to ancient times with numerous cultures using arsenic compounds, it is rarely found in a pure state. Our name comes from the Greek. Zosimos, the Greek Alchemist, (circa 300 AD) describes working with arsenic. Alchemical records show that it was recognized as a poison, but also it was used medicinally in small doses. It was the poison of choice for the royalty in medieval Europe and had the title of the, “Poison of Kings and King of Poisons.”
Although some references state that arsenic is used in the human body, I could not find any clear evidence that this is so. It has been added to the feed of commercial meat producers to increase weight. Poultry producers have used it extensively; the birds aren’t going to live that long anyway—yuck! It is mostly used industrially, as a semi-conductor- when you throw away that phone chances are it contains arsenic. It shows up in treated lumber – don’t use treated lumber for play structures or raised vegetable beds! – food, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and drugs. Because of this, most of us have measurable arsenic in our bodies. It is especially prevalent in water. I just couldn’t find much to commend this element for humans, plants or animals.