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Medicina Legal de Costa Rica

On-line version ISSN 2215-5287Print version ISSN 1409-0015


RODRIGUEZ PADILLA, Carolina. Arsenic poisoning. Med. leg. Costa Rica [online]. 2021, vol.38, n.2, pp.4-16. ISSN 2215-5287.

The water that is consumed by human beings on a daily basis, also entails the intake of some chemical compounds, such as arsenic, a metalloid that when consumed chronically is harmful to health, the same to which some workers could be exposed in their workplace. In forensic medical expertise, metals become relevant when they produce intoxications, having to discern if such intoxications are related to the work activity performed by the person being evaluated or if, on the contrary, they are due to environmental exposure by consumption of contaminated water or food in their homes. Arsenic is a very toxic compound that, since it has no taste or odor, can be consumed inadvertently in water, causing acute or chronic hydroarsenicism. It has been proven that it has impacts on the dermatological, cardiovascular, immunological, neurological, hepatic, renal and respiratory systems, with influence on embryonic development and with important carcinogenic properties. A bibliographic review was made in different databases, of the articles published on the subject in the last twelve years, with the objective of studying the characteristics of arsenic, its metabolism and its impact on the health of human beings. It is concluded that a study of populations at risk of exposure to arsenic is necessary in Costa Rica, due to the fact that it is a country with multiple basic anthropogenic economic activities and because it has a high number of volcanoes distributed in its territory. The forensic doctor, on the other hand, when performing expert opinions in cases of intoxication, should analyze the causal relationship before assuring or discarding the work relationship.

Keywords : Intoxication; arsenic; anthropogenic; metalloid; arsenism; hydroarsenism..

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