Inorganic arsenic: a nongenotoxic threshold carcinogen

Samuel M. Cohen, Lora L. Arnold, Joyce S. Tsuji

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Inorganic arsenic (iA) in the drinking water is a human carcinogen (bladder, lung, and skin). The mode of action involves metabolism to trivalent arsenicals that react with sulfhydryl groups in critical proteins, leading to cytotoxicity with regenerative proliferation, involving a threshold at in vitro concentrations >0.1 μM. Adverse biologic effects at such tissue concentrations in rodents occur with ≥10 ppm of iAs in diet or drinking water. On the basis of mode of action, in vitro, and in vivo studies, anticipated drinking water exposures of 50–150 μg/L exceed a tissue concentration of >0.1 μM in humans. Epidemiologic investigations evaluating populations exposed at levels <150 μg/L iAs in drinking water are consistent with such a threshold for cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-13
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Toxicology
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • Inorganic arsenic
  • Risk assessment
  • bladder cancer
  • lung cancer
  • skin cancer
  • threshold

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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